Edline dead; new parent grade-tracking tool is to die for, testers say

Edline, the online tool parents across Palm Beach County have used to stalk their children’s progress in school – and sometimes curse when teachers don’t update regularly – is dead.

But administrators promise that its replacement, in use districtwide for the first time next week, will be easier to use and have perks only a parent could love as much as students may loathe.

Grade drop alerts, anyone?

The Student Information System Gateway, called alternately SIS or the Gateway, goes live to parents Aug. 6, a week before the first day of school. Parents should be getting a letter in the mail with login information and an explanation of how the system works, school district Chief of Staff Amity Schuyler said.

Students, parents and staff at eight middle and high schools put the system through its paces over a two-month span last year.

“Parents, this is what you’ve been praying for, asking for, for years,” said Darren Edgecomb, principal at Palm Beach Central High in Wellington, one of the pilot schools.

The Gateway does a few things Edline never managed, including allowing parents to check on multiple children from the same login, on the same screen, access to daily attendance in something close to real time and, yes, the ability to set alerts for student grades. SIS will also report class rankings and note which graduation requirements a student has met and which remain unchecked.

Other things SIS just does better, like quickly link to each teacher’s email or email multiple teachers at once, said Samantha Butler, an assistant principal at Palm Beach Central.

Replacing Edline did not cost the district additional money. The SIS Gateway is part of a broader electronic student records and grade keeping system the district bought and has been using for more than a year, said PJ D’Aoust, a former principal now in charge of student information. It always had the capability to give parents and students a portal to this information; it just had to be tailored and rolled out when the Edline contract came to an end, he said.

When it came time to put the Gateway to the test, the district tapped staff and students at Palm Beach Central High as well as those at Spanish River, Boynton Beach and Palm Beach Lakes high schools, Pahokee Middle/Senior and Emerald Cove, Watson B. Duncan and BAK middle schools.

Economics teacher Elizabeth Kelley said she and her colleagues found the system easy to use and handy in ways they didn’t expect. Kid not in class? A quick look at the system could say the student is on a field trip, out of class for testing or has missed every other class that day too.

Teachers can take it to another level if they want, posting future assignments and the accompanying instructions.

Because it’s available through an app on a mobile phone, students tend to use it, the adults in the room agreed.

“It puts onus on students,” Kelley said.

“I import grades on the day something is due,” Kelley said. A student turns it in late for partial credit, but doesn’t see the update online? “They’ll say, Ms. Kelley, I did this. But I have a zero still.” And right there, Kelley can address the situation.

Better communication came with bonuses at Palm Beach Central High.

“Our parent-teacher conferences have dwindled,” Butler said.

It is not perfect, warned Principal Edgecomb. The district’s electronic gradebook system feeds the SIS directly, but teachers must still input the grades.

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