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Online Access to Grades: Does it shift responsibility to Mom?

Parents, when you attended school registration or open house, one of the first items of business was probably arranging your access to iNow, Edmodo or a similar online system for viewing your kids’ grades and assignments. You were probably stoked to think of how you had grown past the old folder system of communication and could know how your child was performing almost in real time. No more wondering about the outcome of test — you’ll know before they get home.  History grade hovering at 89 – no problem – you are on it with reminders and homework help pushing that grade toward a 90.   Start your rotors and let the helicopter parenting begin!

But iNow is a Faustian bargain. Turns out the responsibility that comes with it is mostly yours. Go to any teacher conference and you realize the implicit expectation is that YOU are monitoring iNow like a security agent with a surveillance camera. You should be dutifully checking every grade and calculating averages before the trouble starts. You should know every assignment, refer to its rubric for how it will be graded, and recognize its relative weight in the grading period. Something wasn’t turned in? All eyes turn to you as if you are the dummy who did the work and then left the assignment in the backpack. (Okay, only partially guilty – I did not leave it in the backpack).

This parental responsibility of knowing what is due  isn’t so bad in elementary school, but once kids get to middle school and sufficiently aware to nag you for every penny of their overdue allowance, it seems they should be able to keep up with grades. Doesn’t anyone realize Mom already has her own personal assignments and a calendar to keep?

This is nothing against the teachers or the wonders of modern communication. Online access like iNow is certainly more reliable than a weekly folder or checking the child’s agenda. The problem for me is this: I don’t want to be responsible for my kids’ grades. I want THEM to be responsible for their own grades. After all, I had my turn at middle school, high school, college, etc. So for me it is not iNow. It is U NOW.

Time for YOU, kiddo, to deal with homework, tests, and projects that are assigned four weeks in advance – plenty of time to tell me you need poster board or printed material that requires the magenta ink cartridge (which is currently low).

Time for YOU to strategize on how you will bring up a grade through extra credit and ask your teacher about a missing assignment (BTW: When I was in school, we had to calculate our averages on our own – no spreadsheet with it already out there). Don’t wait for me to pull up online grades and issue a primal scream at the zero in the homework column. YOU need to be thinking of what you have due tomorrow instead of depending on me to issue a freeze on electronics and then perform the accompanying hissyfit it takes for you to believe I am serious.

Teachers and guidance counselors like to remind us that this is all part of the maturation process and we are transferring responsibility over to the kids while we “hold a net” under them. In fact, it feels like the net is over me instead.


  • mommak8

    Thank you for saying this – YES!! I just got an email from a teacher that my son has not been turning in his assignments and was told to check his iNow. To make it worse, some teachers us Edmodo. Some use their own blogs, some use something called ConnectED. I have no IDEA what is what and certainly cannot keep up with 7 different logins and passwords. GAH! This has to stop.

  • Tina

    I am so glad I am not alone! I keep thinking about how my parents had no instant access to my grades; my life hinged on the report card results. Even if one of my teachers had ever contacted my parents to report a missing assignment, I imagine them saying, “You’ll need to speak with her about it,” and handing the phone right over to me. They weren’t in my business other than to help call out vocabulary words or offer a (mutually) frustrating attempt to help with a math problem.

    Before on line grading and assignments, the rule was bring home a bad report card, suffer for the next six weeks until you bring home a better one! No log ins, no passwords, and much less anxiety for the parents, I am sure.