MISSION — Ida Gonzales is looking forward to taking an active role in her daughter’s education this year, discussing grades and homework assignments with Alyssa who just started high school at Veterans Memorial. But instead of waiting for a printed progress report or report card, Gonzales will look to the Internet for updates. Starting this week, Gonzales and hundreds of other parents will be able to log into a computer program to view their child’s grades via Mission Consolidated Independent School District’s new Parent Portal.
The Parent Portal aims to get parents access to their child’s assignments, attendance, class schedules and grades from their own computer at anytime.
“I think it is a great thing for the district to give us access to see our child’s progress,” said Gonzales. “It’s important to me so I can keep up with her grades and be able to identify any areas of weakness. If I see something that needs improvement I can easily talk to the teacher or look into tutoring.”
Knowing her mother has up-to-date, 24/7 access to her grades and attendance doesn’t matter to Alyssa. Starting high school, her grades now mean more to her than ever before because, as she said, “good grades means good colleges and scholarships.”
In junior high, Alyssa was one of the top 20 students. This year, her goal is to be part of the top five percent in her class and finish her senior year that way, along with completed college credits.
“I attended college, but never graduated,” Gonzales said. “As a parent you always want better for your child. Alyssa is a good student and aspires to become a pediatrician one day and good grades will take her there.”
The Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District has a similar program, as does the McAllen school district. Edinburg native Yvonne Jara has one daughter in high school and another in junior high and uses the ParentConnection on a daily basis with and without her daughters.
“My girls get very excited about finding out what their grades might be for a project they turned in or an essay they’ve written,” said Jara. “Sometimes they’ll check the computer every hour eagerly awaiting their grade.”
Jorge Cavazos, administrator for information systems at MCISD, is one of seven staff members that have been working on the system and informing the schools and parents about using the new online program.
The Parent Portal will be accessible to all parents of students at all grade levels. Parents should have received a Parent Portal form at registration or will be receiving information this week and next on how to register for Parent Portal.
“Once the parent forms are filled out, we will set up a user name and password for the parent. Parents must have an email because that is how we will contact the parent with the login information,” Cavazos said. “We will also email them instructions on how to login and use the system. Once they are set, parents can start using the Parent Portal from the convenience of their office, home or mobile device.”
Even teachers will find that the Parent Portal is more efficient than the school’s previous system, district officials said.
“Our entire system has been integrated,” explained Cavazos. “Once a teacher uploads a grade to the Parent Portal, that grade will go where it needs to go.”
Cavazos said the district plans to expand the web-based portal over time. A built-in email function would be one of the first things to add once parents and teachers get the hang of using it, he added.
“The email function can be a great built-in tool parents can use in communicating with their child’s teachers,” Cavazos added. “We are hoping to make it a little more intuitive for parents to access it before adding it in.”
For parents, this new option is key as they juggle family, work and extracurricular activities.
“It’s going to be really neat for us to get online together to discuss her grades and her goals,” said Gonzales. “It will be something that we can discuss together as a family.”
Cavazos said parents will also be able to switch the language used in the portal to view the site in Spanish, if necessary.
“Eventually there will be a way for teachers to collaborate with each other and post and share documents, Power Point presentations, lesson plans and activities electronically,” said Cavazos.
There are approximately 15,500 students at MCISD, but as of this week, only 300 Parent Portal applications were submitted. Cavazos said as the word gets out and parents become more informed, applications will roll in.
“We really want parents to fill out the form, get registered and begin accessing their child’s progress online,” said Craig Verley, director of public relations and marketing for MCISD.
Parent Portal request forms are available at any school. Once the application has been processed, parents will receive their login information to their email to log onto the school district’s website (www.mcisd.net) to access Parent Portal.
Verley ensured that parents and teachers would have the support they need from the information systems department to address any issues that may arise when using the new system.
“The Parent Portal is going to be a great tool for parents. It offers immediacy to the parent on what the child is doing daily instead of waiting for progress reports to come in,” Verley said. “We are looking forward to seeing the reaction, accountability and possibly improvement in grades.”
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