Like the vinyl record and the VHS tape, digital age technology may soon make report cards obsolete in Johnson City’s schools.
Science Hill High School students will no longer be bringing home paper copies of their grade assessments at the middle and end of the year. Instead, parents and students can access grades online through the school’s Gradebook Portal.
Debra Bentley, Johnson City Schools supervisor of instruction and communication, said principal Melanie Riden-Bacon and the rest of the school’s administration decided to make the move to digital grades to save the district time and money.
“One of the main reasons was that sometimes high school students prefer to not take their report cards home,” Bentley said Tuesday. “Every time they send them out, our staff ends up picking up a lot of them off the floors.”
By moving the marks online, parents and students can access them at anytime — avoiding lost grade cards — and the school district saves the expense of printing the more than 2,200 report cards twice a year.
“It takes a lot of time and materials in the paper and ink,” Bentley said. “Many of the parents would just as soon print them out themselves at home or just look at them on the computer.”
Parents and students without Internet access can still request a paper copy from the school, an option that Bentley said 200 people have already requested.
She said the victory for the school district, however, is the 50 new accounts created to access the online parent portal.
“The whole goal is to get more parents involved in the portal,” Bentley said. “You can get everything from attendance and tardies to grades throughout the year, not just at the times when report cards come out.”
Parents can sign up for an account at Science Hill’s website, sciencehillhighschool.weebly.com, and click the Parent Portal button under the Parent Info tab.
With students’ names and school identification numbers, parents can link their children’s education information and receive updates when available.
“I know they’re pleased with the number of people who are joining,” Bentley said. “There are plenty of safeguards in place, and students can’t tamper with their grades.”
The district’s middle, elementary and intermediate schools will still send home paper report cards, but if Science Hill’s implementation of online grades is successful, other schools in the district may make the move as well, Bentley said.
“We’ll run this through the high school first to see how successful it is,” she said. “There are certainly pros and cons, but if it works at Science Hill, the other schools may follow them soon.”