PBC schools to get new web­site for grades, emails

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Local - By Lois K. Solomon Staff writer

Palm Beach County’s stu­dents, ac­cus­tomed to im­me­di­ate in­for­ma­tion through their cell­phones, soon will be able to use those de­vices to find out what they got on an exam, how many ab­sences they have and even learn what, to some, is the most im­por­tant statis­tic: their class rank.

All of it and more will be on a new web plat­form called Stu­dent In­for­ma­tion Sys­tem Gate­way, known to many as SIS, avail­able to stu­dents and their par­ents for the new school year.

School be­gins Aug. 13, but par­ents will start get­ting let­ters in the mail this week de­tail­ing how to log in to the new por­tal, which re­places a com­mu­ni­ca­tions web­site the district had used since 2004, Ed­line.

It was chal­leng­ing to email teach­ers through Ed­line or find out a test score on the same day an exam was given. But with SIS, stu­dents and par­ents can get not only de­tailed in­for­ma­tion on the stu­dent’s grades, but also up­com­ing as­sign­ments, GPA and how many cred­its and com­mu­nity ser­vice hours a high school stu­dent still needs be­fore grad­u­a­tion. They can also email a teacher with just one click.

“Stu­dents think in the mind­set of in­stant,” said Darren Edge­comb, prin­ci­pal at Palm Beach Cen­tral High School in Wellington, which pi­loted SIS last year and got 100 per­cent par­tic­i­pa­tion from stu­dents. “Once the teacher in­puts it, they can see it in­stantly.”

The school district pi­loted the site at nine schools last year, in­clud­ing Boyn­ton Beach High, Span­ish River High in Boca Ra­ton and Bak Mid­dle School of the Arts in West Palm Beach.

The site ex­hibits not only grades in school, but also stan­dard­ized test scores. Par­ents and stu­dents can sign up for email or text alerts if they want to be no­ti­fied that a grade has dropped be­low a cer­tain num­ber.

They see the same screen guid­ance

coun­selors use when fam­i­lies come in for meet­ings.

Visit­ing the prin­ci­pal or guid­ance coun­selor used to be the only way to find out a stu­dent’s cov­eted class rank.

Some com­pet­i­tive stu­dents want to be in the top 10 in their class to en­sure they are ac­cepted to a good col­lege. Now, the ranks will be up­dated in stu­dents’ ac­counts, prob­a­bly once a se­mes­ter, said PJ D’Aoust, one of the Palm Beach County School District’s di­rec­tors.

Easy ac­cess to the site likely will re­duce vis­its to over­worked guid­ance coun­selors. The Amer­i­can School Coun­selor As­so­ci­a­tion rec­om­mends one coun­selor for ev­ery 250 stu­dents, but Palm Beach County high schools have one for ev­ery 435 stu­dents.

Palm Beach Cen­tral teacher El­iz­a­beth Kel­ley used SIS last year and said the site of­fered her an­swers that used to be more com­pli­cated to find, es­pe­cially re­lated to stu­dent ab­sences and make-up work.

“If some­one is in test­ing or on a field trip, I know why they’re not here,” said Kel­ley, who teaches eco­nom­ics. “You can at­tach in­struc­tions for a project, so the stu­dent doesn’t have to ask me for it 17 times.”

The site will be avail­able in four lan­guages: English, Span­ish, Por­tuguese and Cre­ole.

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