Infographic by Sam Zuckerman '21
PowerSchool is the open grading system we use at Staples, and it forms the cornerstone of the Staples community. But do we know what it is like from a teacher’s perspective? Former Staples English teacher and girls’ cross country coach Amanda Parrish Morgan released an article referring to her time as a teacher and a parent in the world of the open grade book. In the article, she contends that this open grade book only gives data to the students and the teachers, not the parents. I agree with this, and this “data” similarly creates problems for students, as parents can’t see what is really happening in the classroom. As such, they interpret their child’s performance based off the grades they receive. There must be a better way of tackling the way we share grades at Staples.
PowerSchool is the bane of many students’ Staples career. There seems to be an endless cycle of checking the website over and over again. In theory, anyone with an account linked can access your grades. This is ridiculous, and that plays into much of the stress students have. Pleasing parents is a key ideology in Westport’s students. For parents to get the self-satisfaction from their children, they have to push them to unreasonable measures. My parents pushing me can be one of the best things in my life, but there are times when that push turns into a forceful shove and becomes a burden. I know I’m not the only one to experience parents nagging about grades on tests and projects when they haven’t been returned yet.
Parental pressure comes from parents having 24/7 access to grades. Morgan said in her article, “Often, my students would receive text messages during class and either solemnly or self-consciously, depending on their sense of humor, reveal that mom or dad was texting to ask why they hadn’t turned in a recent assignment, or when a quiz we’d just taken would be returned.” Even when parents know their children are in school and shouldn’t be interrupted, they still ask about grades. There has to be a way to stop this.
In my opinion, one way is to limit access to PowerSchool for both parents and students. There are kids in my U.S History class that have checked PowerSchool over 120 times already. We’ve been in school for only two months, and they have checked PowerSchool almost more times than the days in the entire school year.
Access to grades could be potentially limited even further. I believe that the answer is that guidance counselors should be the only people to have access to student grades, and then students could make appointments or arrange a schedule with the counselors. This will work for two reasons. Firstly, guidance counselors are supposed to be some of the most trusted adults in the school who make their decisions in our best interest. If a problem arises, or they sense that overall we are struggling, they would be able to make an appointment, and then we would be able to see our grades. Additionally, guidance counselors will be able to regulate how often we check our grades. I believe this could help regulate stress in students and make our overall experience in school easier.
PowerSchool seems to do more harm than help in our Staples Community. With parents and students logging in for hours on end, it seems that PowerSchool is the most important aspect of school, which shouldn’t be the case.