Overdoing parental involvement in children’s learning

Parental involvement in the education of their children is one of the most important factors in learning.  But the existence of online grade books is turning out to be a mixed blessing (“The New Parental Obsession: Checking Kids’ Grades Online,” The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 16).

Although online grade books allow parents to detect a problem while it is still correctable, it has also led to parents becoming compulsive.  That creates anxiety because parents fixate on a particular grade rather than overall learning.  I’m also not so sure that teachers like the idea, since it means they can become overwhelmed with queries from anxious parents. For example, some parents log in several times a day, which means teachers can expect to hear from worried parents.  I don’t know how teachers find the time to respond.

When I was teaching English in the Los Angeles Unified School District, teacher-parent contact included phone calls home, progress reports and report cards that had to be signed by parents and after-school conferences. Online grade books provide greater continuity, but they also can become intrusive.

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2 Replies to “Overdoing parental involvement in children’s learning”

  1. Seems that the key to obtaining the benefits of the on-line gradebooks w/o incurring the disadvantages you note is for school administrators to adopt, publicize and enforce reasonable guidelines re the extent to which teachers should respond to the parental questions/comments generated by the gradebooks. Unfortunately, there will be some — perhaps many — school administrators who will back the complaining parent when they should back the victimized teacher. Yet another area where teachers — as well as the educational experience generally — would benefit from having a strong union.

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  2. Labor Lawyer: I agree that the key is establishing rules for on-line grade books. Otherwise, the whole thing will quickly get out of hand. Principals tend to take the side of parents rather than of teachers in such matters. Long before the digital age, some parents would inundate teachers with phone calls about their children’s progress. Although I appreciated their concern, their constant questions detracted from the time I spent on other classroom matters. That’s why a strong union is necessary.

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