For Gilbert parents, checking in on their children’s school progress has become a snap.
The Gilbert Unified School District piloted the SnapGrades program at seven schools last year, and has expanded it districtwide this year. SnapGrades is a grading system that allows parents to check their children’s assignments online.
“It’s a communication tool for parents and teachers,” said Ken James, executive director of educational services for the district. “Parents can be right up-to-the-minute with progress and grades.”
SnapGrades allows parents to be involved with their children’s education, and there are no surprises at the end of the quarter or semester, he said.
Gilbert mom Barb Dwyer, whose sons participated in the pilot program at Highland High School last year, said she loves the program.
While Dwyer can look at a report card and see periodic grades, she now can look at SnapGrades and learn how her children did on every assignment.
“It gives you insight to where their strengths and weaknesses are,” Dwyer said. “I never saw that kind of detail (before). It helps you see what kind of a learner they are.”
She learned that one of her sons earned As on most assignments, but struggled on tests.
That son also used SnapGrades “constantly” because he needed a 3.0 grade point average to get his driver’s license and didn’t want to be caught short at the end of the year.
“It was really cool because he was so empowered,” Dwyer said.
She would also catch teacher slip-ups when another son — a 4.0 student — showed he was missing or failing assignments on SnapGrades. After talking with the teacher, the grade was usually changed, she said.
Joe Granio, an eighth-grade science teacher at Gilbert Junior High School, which piloted SnapGrades last year, said he likes the system both as a parent and as a teacher.
“I can check online to see how my kids are doing anytime,” Granio said. “It’s a great method of feedback.”
One of the benefits, he said, is that it allows for better communication between parents and teachers.
“It adds another tool to the toolbox that allows parents and teachers to communicate more freely,” he said.
And it doesn’t have to do with grades, he said. Parents can e-mail teachers on various topics such as how their children are doing socially, whether they are participating in class, or if their behavior changes after the loss of a grandparent.
“I can check in with parents very quickly,” Granio said. “I’ve been teaching for 14 years ... I really gotta say I like the SnapGrades. It keeps things very well organized, it looks neat (and) takes a lot of hassle of having to hand compute grades the way we used to.”