Remy Teltser '21
Hardly seven seconds after receiving an “it’s posted” text message, PowerSchool is loading its web page onto my phone browser. As the all too familiar gray dial spins around, I am internally freaking out. Simultaneously, my AP Lang group chat is blowing up talking about how this one essay affected everyone’s quarter grade, grade point average and ultimately exaggerating how this will prevent them from attending college the following year.
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, both students and parents have unlimited access to PowerSchool, the Westport Public School’s grade-reporting system. While I understand the desire to check a test grade immediately after it has been posted, the constant ability to access your transcripts releases unnecessary competition, stress and anxiety into the Staples atmosphere and is toxic to the student mindset.
For me and most other students, the PowerSchool app is constantly being refreshed. I notice every time my semester grade falls half a percentage, and after two years of this routine, I’ve learned how destructive it is to mental health and academic confidence. In reality, your high school only displays final letter grades for each class. Therefore, there is absolutely no reason for worrying about grades on a daily, weekly or even quarterly basis because those letters are unseeable to all universities, but it is nearly impossible not to look when the accessibility is so easy.
Additionally, PowerSchool detaches learning from tests. After seeing a bad grade on PowerSchool, students cannot see which specific answers they got incorrect. Ultimately, a mere numerical grade is valued above the importance of learning from mistakes.
The problem also falls on parents. Since all guardians have a login into their child’s PowerSchool account, sometimes they see grades before students do. For example, my mom will text me confused about why I have incomplete math homework or why I have a zero for a test make-up when she doesn’t know the full context.
While I understand that this same access gives parents the power to monitor their students’ academic successes, the power is being abused. PowerSchool allows parents to inadvertently bombard children with pressure to always keep my grades up and reinforce the idea that students should always be checking as well.
There should be time restraints that a certain student can spend on PowerSchool or certain days in which the website is opened to the public, like Fridays. The one exception where day-round access is needed is at the end of any quarter or semester because PowerSchool aids students in noticing any missing assignments or tests they must make-up.
I believe that there should be boundaries, as with anything. The administration gave students and parents the privilege of 24/7 access, and that privilege has been exploited. The Staples environment does not need added reinforcement of the stress grades bear. PowerSchool is not the enemy, but the ease to abuse it must be checked.