AISD Report Cards Go Online

Students beware ...

The era of the "dog ate my report card" excuse comes to an end this week as Austin Independent School District introduces Parent Connection, a new online service that gives parents real-time access to their children's school records.

Previously, the district's electronic records have only been open to staff, but Parent Connection opens that information up to families. All students' attendance records and grade reports are available online, while assignments will be posted for third- through 12th-graders.

The new system goes live on Jan. 16 and is funded by last May's school bond, making it a free service for parents. Six campuses piloted the program last Novem­ber, and parents and staff greeted it positively. AISD spokesman Andy Welch explained, "It's one thing to talk the talk of greater parental involvement ... but this is what we've talked about in practice."

Parents and guardians will receive a PIN code in the mail from AISD with which to access their children's records. The district started sending them out on Jan. 9, and any parents who don't receive their code should contact the Parent Connection service facilitator at their child's school. Since the PIN gives access to confidential files, said Welch, "Treat it like you would the PIN to a bank account."

While not everyone has a computer, Welch said, "we're exploring some things we may be able to do at schools after hours when there are still staff around." In the meantime, parents with limited computer access are encouraged to use public libraries.

Education Austin President Louis Malfaro said that, as a parent himself, he was "thrilled" by how much this allows his and other families to become more readily involved with their children's education. Speaking as a union chief, he called it "a good thing, because our members want parents to be paying attention."

Since Parent Connection uses the existing electronic grade-book system, Welch said, the only responsibility for teachers is making sure that they set enough gradable work. Malfaro praised AISD for an effective rollout that had kept his members involved at every stage. "They didn't leave us in the 19th century with our ledgers and then say, 'You've got a week's training to use this system.'"

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Austin ISD, Parent Connection, Louis Malfaro

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