Accountability In Schools Takes Hold With Web-based Communication
Palm Beach County School District
Palm Beach Co., Fla.
More accountability in the classroom is helping students in the Palm Beach County School District (PBCSD) achieve success in their schoolwork. And it’s Edline—the world’s leading web-based solution for K-12 schools—that’s holding administrators, teachers, parents and students responsible through an improved line of communication.
“Edline has become part of our family life,” said Cindy Wilcox, parent of two and computer technology assistant at Allamanda Elementary in PBCSD. Using Edline for the past five years, Wilcox says she and her children, who attend Bak Middle School of the Arts (MSOA), log onto Edline daily to check various information—from school schedules and homework assignments to announcements and student club details.
On a weekly basis, grades are posted and Wilcox receives emails from her children’s teachers alerting her of new grades posted on the site. “My kids will even go online to check their own grades,” Wilcox added. “Edline has helped them take more responsibility for their school work and schedules.” The technology also has Wilcox feeling more connected to her children’s teachers with Edline’s e-mail feature. “Within a day or two a question is answered or problem resolved.” There’s no playing phone tag or driving to the school for a meeting; and that means at-risk students can be identified and addressed earlier rather than later in the school year.
Teachers are encouraged that the extra time they put into communicating via Edline has gotten parents more involved in the educational process. “Parents have a greater understanding of the upcoming assignments and current grades,” said Lisa Hanser, a 7th grade gifted social studies teacher at Bak MSOA who uses Edline weekly. Hanser also goes to Edline to post her PowerPoint lesson plans and attach Internet links helpful to her students. “I’ve seen the quality of students’ work improve, especially in students who have lost or forgotten their school assignments,” Hanser added. Students have no excuse now; they can access all of this information online from home, a library, or their parent’s workplace—wherever there’s an Internet connection.
Hanser also has found Edline useful in reaching out to parents with requests for project supplies or volunteer speaking opportunities. It does require additional time for teachers to input all of this information, but they find it well worth it.
School administrators have found advantages when it comes to time management. “Time is saved in the reduced number of phone calls and teacher-parent conferences that are necessary,” noted Elizabeth Kennedy, principal at Bak MSOA. “Edline provides a good back-up for important information and assists when paper handouts are misplaced.”
Teachers and administrators continue to find creative ways to keep families engaged with Edline. Teacher Web pages now include audio and visual content, such as photo slide shows of field trips and student created presentations. A few schools are translating their Edline sites into Spanish and Haitian/Creole. As for the IT professionals, they are working to put textbooks online.
No more book bags? “The hope is to have half of student textbooks available via the Web by year’s end,” said Kim Cavanaugh, Manager of Technology in the Palm Beach County School District. There will be no excuses for not being able to do homework because a book was left in a locker. And students won’t have to overload their backpacks with books. All of their reading needs will soon be accessible at home online.
An estimated 500,000 students and adults throughout the district use Edline. “Kids are rabid about it,” Cavanaugh noted, and they are driving the demand for teachers to update their content. Features like combined calendars and all-school events power student use too.
With all of this dissemination of information, Cavanaugh said, Edline is “rock solid in integrating and handling it,” making communicating a lot easier. The result is a more confident kid in the classroom knowing they have an online tool to be successful in school.