"The participation in i-Parent is nowhere near the participation level we would like to see," said school system spokesman Louis Svehla. "Currently, I believe that it is somewhere around 20 percent participation. There has been a constant move by school officials to make the information available to all parents or guardians on how to register for i-Parent and the benefits it will have for them and their students."
The school system has more than 32,000 pupils, yet just 4,553 i-Parent accounts have been set up. The figure is far below the 11,000 households set up with i-Parent in Columbia County, a system with 23,000 students.
Mr. Svehla said some parents might feel registering for i-Parent is complicated or time-consuming.
"The fact is, it is very easy to register," he said. "All a parent or guardian needs to do is go to the school and ask to receive the password and log-in information for their student. Once this is obtained, the student's information can be obtained by logging in to the Web site from any computer that has Internet access."
Mr. Svehla said even parents deployed overseas or in other states can use the program to check on their child's progress.
"It is a wonderful opportunity for them to have discussions with their students when they see that they may be having trouble in a particular subject and be able to address that earlier as opposed to waiting for progress reports or report cards," he said.
In Columbia County, 9,400 of the 11,000 households set up with i-Parent accounts are active, meaning they've been used at least once in the past 60 days, said school system technology director James Van Meter.
Of the active accounts, Mr. Van Meter estimates 70 percent to 80 percent use the program daily or weekly. However, school officials were unsure how many pupils are tracked using i-Parent.
"It's one account per family," Mr. Van Meter said. "We have 23,000 students, but if you have a family of three (school-age children), it would only be one account that shows all three."
The school system initiated i-Parent as a pilot program in 2005 and offered it systemwide the following year.
"They (parents) all love it," student information support specialist Angie Deming said. "Nobody ever says they hate it."
The Aiken County school system doesn't have i-Parent. Officials are pursuing the PowerSchool program, which eventually should give parents the capability to track grades and absences. Individual Aiken County schools, mostly those on the high school level, use a program called Moodle that allows parents to check on class assignments.
Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 828-3851 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
GETTING STARTED WITH I-PARENT
RICHMOND COUNTY: Parents or guardians must register for access and will receive an access code through their child's school. After parents have been given a user name and password, they can check their child's grades, attendance and class schedule at https://iparent. richmond.k12.ga.us/iparent/ For more information, contact your child's school. For technical support, contact the i-Parent help desk at email@example.com
COLUMBIA COUNTY: Parents must contact their child's school to obtain a user name and password, then visit www.ccboe.net/iparent.html for further instructions.