Press Item


This press item appeared in the Mineral Daily News Tribune , Keyser, WV on 9/21/2005.

A tremendous tool for parent communication

By MARLA PISCIOTTA, Tribune Staff Writer

Parents of students attending Keyser Middle School can log in and access their child's subjects, assignments, and progress.

The school is piloting a Web site which enables parents to keep up with everything from tests schedules to announcements.

"Actually I set it up for my students before school started," said teacher Don Shumaker. Shumaker said he got the idea from an e-mail he received.

"They offered a free trial for the first three teachers for one school year," said Shumaker, who teaches 7th grade language arts and social studies.

Setting up the names into the computer and the parent's e-mail addresses is the most time consuming part of the system, according to Sharon Haines, also a 7th grade teacher.

Haines said the program is working very well for her.

"We've gotten a lot of feedback from the parents and students as well," said Haines.

Shumaker is excited about the program. "One of the biggest problems we have in the school system is that parents really don't know how the students are doing. The parents don't know whether they (the students) are turning in their assignments or if they have an upcoming quiz or test," he said.

With the online gradebook, Shumaker said, "Parents can have instant access to results of tests."

According to Shumaker the scores are put into the computer and the computer processes and computes the grades as soon as the scores are typed in. Tests results are generally typed into the computer within a day or so after grading.

"It's a no-lose situation. In addition to the scores, we can type in assignments, information on upcoming tests, projects that are due, and even make comments on how the students are performing," said Shumaker.

Shumaker said the online gradebook allows the parents to know more than the students in some instances.

"One comment I received from a parent was that they didn't have to look through a messy bookbag," said Shumaker.

The program is "computer simple," meaning it is very easy to access and use, according to Shumaker. The goal is to involve parents and improve students' performance.

Although the first three teachers received the program free for a year, Shumaker said the next teachers received a three-month trial.

"Right now we have six or seven teachers at KMS using the program," said Shumaker. "An estimated 250 students are now in the system."

If the program continues next school year, the subscription will cost $89 a year per teacher. "The more teachers purchasing the program, the lower the price," said Shumaker. He added that he hopes it goes countywide.