In January, pupils and parents at several Columbia County Schools were introduced to a new component of education technology.
I-Parent, an Internet-based student information center, allows parents to view their child's scholastic records. Much to the dismay of some pupils, instead of sending notes or calling teachers, parents just need to log in to view their offspring's grades, class schedule and attendance record.
Pupils at Greenbrier and Lakeside high schools and Riverside Middle School are among the first in the county to have the program, which has had rave reviews in Cobb County, Ga.
Some pupils resent I-Parent because it hinders their ability to hide poor grades, absences or truancies from their parents. For that reason, many parents are ecstatic.
"Parents love it," said Michael Kent, the technology director for Columbia County schools, who oversees implementation of the program and provides technical support. "One parent e-mailed and said it is great that they can sit with their child and review what needs to be done."
Mr. Kent, who said plans are to have I-Parent in the rest of Columbia County high and middle schools by fall, said the program's goal is to empower families.
"We're trying to keep parents involved with students," he said. "This program makes it easy for parents to get the information they need."
Jeff Carney, the principal of Lakeside High School, described the benefits of I-Parent:
"The most distinct advantage of I-Parent is student accountability," he said. "Parents know every single grade that their child makes."
As a result, pupils must take responsibility for their grades, Mr. Carney explained.
Teachers also seem to be enthusiastic about I-Parent.
According to Deborah Lancaster, a trigonometry and algebra teacher at Lakeside, I-Parent is a long-needed, beneficial change.
The Internet-based grade book system is sometimes inconvenient and can create extra work for teachers, but it also reduces the number of phone calls and parental e-mails that teachers receive, she said.
Mrs. Lancaster said there are some concerns associated with I-Parent, particularly because dropping, updating and changing grades can be a difficult and time-consuming task for teachers. The system also might cause confusion if a grade is accidentally entered incorrectly.
Michael Krygier, 17, a junior at Lakeside, said he worries about too much parental oversight with the I-Parent.
"It (I-Parent) is great for parents because it allows them to know if their son is slacking." he said. "I feel like I-Parent is an invasion of privacy."
Mr. Kent said every precaution is being made to ensure that only parents have access and that private information, such as discipline records and contact information, will not be included.
Many teens said they benefit from I-Parent because it allows them to keep track of their progress easily.
Lauren Ashley Redmon, 16, a sophomore at Lakeside, said she likes the system.
"I like being able to keep up with my grades," she said. "Before I-Parent, I was not sure how I was doing in my classes. Now I know for sure where I stand."
The knowledge that parents can access any grade at any time forces pupils to take every grade more seriously, said Cole Smith, 16, a junior at Lakeside:
"Instead of seeing just an average, with I-Parent, parents see every single grade. I-Parent keeps me working my hardest."
Josh Woodward, 16, is a junior at Lakeside High School.