Urbana schools use online records

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Senior at Urbana High School Tori Frobish and her mother Susan Frobish pose for a portrait Tuesday. Erica Magda

By Megan Kelly

Susan Frobish balances working full time with being the mother of two children. She likes to think of herself as an involved parent but used to have trouble finding time to talk with teachers about her children’s academic progress.

Frobish, an Urbana resident, no longer has this dilemma. Last month, Urbana School District 116 implemented an online record system, allowing parents to check their children’s grades, attendance history and even lunch selections from the comfort of their own homes.

“I think the idea of being able to check my child’s grades online after work hours is this program’s biggest benefit,” Frobish said. “Most of us are working during the day, and there is limited time for teacher contact.”

John Morrow, director of instructional technology for the Urbana School District, said the district created the system to facilitate communication between parents and schools.

“We try to keep parents informed, and the faster we communicate, the more successful we are solving problems before they become problems,” Morrow said. “No parent wants to find out bad news about a child’s performance weeks after the problem emerged. This is one way to prevent that.”

The program is a Skyward Student Information System that allows parents throughout the Urbana School District to be able to log in and check their child’s records. The amount of information presented varies depending on the student’s age, Morrow said. The elementary level includes grades, attendance history and demographic information, while the middle and high school levels also include student lunch information, allowing parents to see what their children ordered and how much they spent.

Since the program began last month, it has received mostly positive feedback. Additionally, there have already been hundreds of parent log-ins, Morrow said.

Although Frobish likes the system, she believes it will only work if it is publicized better. She didn’t know the program existed until she was contacted by The Daily Illini. She then talked to five other parents, three of whom had also not heard of it.

“We discovered there was a booth at registration where you could get a password to check this information, but when we registered the lines were so long they covered the table up, and there was no sign (advertising it),” Frobish said. “I think the success of this program depends upon better dissemination of information to parents.”

Many students also believe the system will be beneficial.

“I think that’s what Urbana needs more of – parent involvement,” Tori Frobish, daughter of Susan Frobish and senior at Urbana High School, said. “I think if parents know their kids are skipping, they’ll be able to keep an eye on them more. This would bring about better attendance, which will result in better grades and a better reputation for my school.”

Frobish believes that most students feel the same way as she does.

“I have a feeling a lot of students will think it’s a good thing, but some probably won’t because they don’t want their parents knowing what’s going on,” she said.

In the future, Morrow believes the system may grow to include discipline records, health records and a student portfolio containing a sample of each child’s classroom work online.

“The students are our number one concern,” Morrow said. “We base everything on how it will help the students, and if this (system) will direct resources to them, we’ll do it.”