Math department challenges PowerSchool obsession


Graphic by Lily Klau '23

The math department, along with many other teachers and students, object to the stress caused by PowerSchool.

As the bell rings at 8 a.m., a student opens their computer, typing quickly in the search bar. The tab they’ve searched stays open throughout the day, surviving the purging of others. It finds a home on the screens of hundreds of stressed students at Staples, providing both comfort and a certain level of anguish. This website is not wordle, not Netflix, or Amazon, but a constant source of validation: PowerSchool, Staples’ designated grade reporting system. 

Many in the math department are concerned for students’ mental health from the pressure of keeping good grades. They plan on suggesting “blackout” dates or times when students will find PowerSchool inaccessible for a certain period.  

“I don’t like that students have access to PowerSchool all the time because I feel that many are grade obsessed, instead of focusing and learning in class,” math teacher Kevin Cuccaro said. 

In contrast to the teacher’s support, many adolescents oppose these potential changes. 

“PowerSchool is a resource for students. That’s the reason we can see our grades, it’s not just for report cards that come out every three months,” Byrnn Fleisig ’24 said. “That feels like they are defeating the whole purpose of PowerSchool itself.”

Catherine Hassell ’24 understands the unhealthy obsession over grades, explaining why she chooses not to participate in constant PowerSchool checking. 

“I don’t like checking PowerSchool much because it’s stressful and I don’t like knowing what I got on tests all the time,” Hassell said. “Especially during school, it would stress me out even more.”

I don’t like that students have access to PowerSchool all the time because I feel that many are grade obsessed, instead of focusing and learning in class.

— Math teacher Kevin Cuccaro

Science teacher Karen Thompson brings up another point about parents having access to grades. 

“I think having blackout times in PowerSchool would be amazing,” Thompson said. “I would hope that if students were blacked out [from PowerSchool] that parents would be as well.” 

Aside from just blackout dates, teachers worry that the number grade itself is even more of a concern. Another aspect of PowerSchool that could potentially be changed is removing the decimal point of students’ grades. For example, a student with a 95.6 in their English class would only be able to see the 95. 

“I really think decimal places are needed for the student’s benefit,” Ben Seidman ’23 said. “I always check my grades before a test, and I look at those decimal points for motivation, meaning that I have to get a certain grade for my overall grade to be good.” 

These decisions are not finalized, but the word about enforcing these new changes to PowerSchool continues to buzz through the hallways.

“My overall thought on grades and if there are decimal points or not is that students obsess way too much over their grades and those decimal points,” Thompson said. “So maybe we shouldn’t show them to get over that obsession.”