MENOMINEE - Parents and students at Menominee High School can now go online to get grades, attendance records, missed assignments, and other classroom information from teachers.
The high school is piloting a new program - Edline - this spring. Next school year it will be available to parents and students in all grade levels.
A federal government program is funding two-thirds of the $10,000 cost.
Edline is a Chicago-based company that hosts the ability for individual teachers to create web pages for their classrooms.
“It’s fundamentally opening up parent and teacher communication, because so often in a traditional school setting you’ll have parent-teacher conferences once or twice a year where parents come and sit down with their children’s teachers,” explained Menominee Area Public Schools Director of Technology Leigh Howell. “Now there can be an ongoing dialog between parents and teachers.”
Letters were mailed Thursday to the parents of all high school students explaining how to use Edline. Students have already been taught how to activate their own Edline accounts in classrooms.
Parents must first go to the Edline site, edline.net, to activate an account and created a user password.
When parents access the site they can click on “welcome” to lean more about Edline, then access the student and class information teachers have posted.
About half of the teachers in school are participating in the pilot program. “It’s not mandated that it must be used by all of the high school staff - every teacher won’t have a page,” Howell said. “We’ve got about 17 teachers participating.”
These are generally teachers who are skilled at using computers and already use an electronic grade book they can post on Edline. To bring teachers up to speed on the new program, Howell and the high school’s computer instructor, Art Lewis, have been teaching evening classes to help them feel more comfortable with the new technology.
Access to class and assignment grades is one of the key features Edline offers. After parents register their e-mail addresses, teachers can arrange to have Edline send them an e-mail when grades are updated.
Right now, Edline is giving parents an opportunity to check their children’s third-quarter grades before report cards come out. “Report cards won’t be picked up until April 17, the day after students return to school following spring break,” Howell said. “With Edline access, a parent can click on ‘reports’ to see their child’s grades and days absent.”
Edline also offers links to Internet Web-sites of interest to parents and students. Some may correlate with the textbooks being used.
Teachers will also have the opportunity to report student discipline problems, such as detentions and a student skipping class without an excuse; report planned field trips and class projects; and post course expectations and classroom guidelines.
Students who are ill and miss school will be able to access missed assignment on line. Parents can also click to e-mail teachers with comments and questions.
It’s estimated about 80 percent of the students have Internet access in their homes.
“The nice thing about this service being web-based is if a parent doesn’t have Internet access at home, they can create an account at a library or at work – anywhere there is Internet access,” Howell said. “If you’re on a business trip to New York, you can check on your kids.”
Any parent who does not have Internet access is urged to telephone teachers to obtain print outs of information available online and discuss student progress.
Starting next September, Edline will be available in every school building in the district as a pilot program, however, all teachers will not be mandated to participate until sometime in the future.