Last week, students shared their thoughts on PowerSchool, an online service that allows students to access their grades anytime they please. This week, three Old Rochester Regional High School teachers gave their opinions on the website which, for teachers, goes under the moniker of PowerTeacher. The main services of PowerSchool for teachers include managing their gradebook, sending in attendance, and coordinating lesson plans.
Olga Surpless, who teaches several different levels of Spanish at ORR, is a fan of PowerSchool and uses it throughout her school day.
“Whenever I do any work of a professional nature, like grading or planning lessons, it happens on PowerSchool,” said Surpless.
Although she was vocal in her support of the program, she acknowledged that it could have its drawbacks.
“Some students let PowerSchool direct their life and it shouldn’t,” she said. “It has to be used carefully, and students shouldn’t lose track of what it means.” She described PowerSchool as an “interactive, instant way for students to connect with their grades.”
History teacher Erich Carroll praised PowerSchool’s accessibility and the way it makes a teacher’s job easier.
“It calculates the grades automatically, and it makes it easier when I look at a student’s performance.” He agreed with Surpless, saying that a ‘hyper-focus’ on grades is one of the negatives about PowerSchool. To combat this, he proposed an alert system that would send students and/or parents text messages when grades were updated to avoid constant checking.
When questioned about whether PowerSchool improves the relationship between teachers and students, Carroll responded by saying it should help, because “it quells problems that came up before PowerSchool.”
Carroll addressed the cons by saying, “Controversy could arise if students want their grades immediately, and teachers have lots of papers to grade.”
Colleen Foster, who teaches subjects like Health and Anatomy at ORR, had an interesting perspective on PowerSchool.
“PowerSchool allows teachers to access students’ grades in other classes, so that we can guide them in directed study,” Foster said. When asked about what could be improved, Foster did not necessarily point out anything specific, reinforcing that the program works pretty well.
“PowerSchool creates a dialogue between teachers and students, allowing kids to come up with more specific questions than just, ‘How am I doing?’”
PowerSchool is a fixture in both student and teacher life at ORR, and although changes have now been suggested and could occur, the website itself does not seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.
By Patrick Briand