PowerSchool should turn out to be a good investment for Apple, according to a
PC World analysis piece. Why? Because Web-based report cards are getting high marks in schools across the country as online grading systems replace traditional paper reports.
Apple announced plans to buy PowerSchool, a provider of Web-based student information systems for K-12 schools and school districts, back in March for $62 million in Apple stock.
With PowerSchool, teachers can enter grades and attendance information, post homework assignments, map learning activities to standards and monitor individual student progress or that of an entire class.
Administrators can use the system to centrally manage student records, eliminate manual data transfer, and automate many administrative functions, including the creation of state reports, report cards, transcripts, absentee lists and progress reports.
Parents can use the system with any home or office computer to check on their child’s grades, attendance records and home assignments in real-time. And they can elect to receive automatic updates of their children’s progress.
With online grading, students with bad grades can no longer hide their report cards from parents or play hooky from school unnoticed, PC World said. And solutions such as PowerSchool allows parents, teachers and students check grades, attendance, progress and class schedules at any time from any personal computer, it adds. And the PowerSchool system also offers a phone option that allows parents without Internet access to check their child’s information over the phone.
The PowerSchool student information system has been selected by 2,000 schools nationwide. Pricing depends on the number of students and schools in a district. Cost for a small school would start at about $5000, according to PC World. Some school administrators say it’s a cost-effective system. David Ehlers, network administrator at Kadoka Schools in South Dakota, told PC World that his rural district with 400 students paid between US$7,000 and $10,000 when it adopted PowerSchool three years ago.
The concept gets high marks from the National Education Association, the largest U.S. teachers’ union with more than 2 million members, according to the article. Don Blake, an NEA senior technologist, told PC World that PowerSchool was “a positive tool that can really engage parents to learn more about their child’s performances in school.”
However, he added that schools must be wary of the systems’ capability to protect students’ privacy. If not properly secured, people can hack into such systems and possibly cause harm, including changing grades and finding out personal information. PC World said that to access most systems, parents, teachers and students must use a password. Information is protected through encryption programs similar to those used by online vendors and banks, according to the article.