"Report card day is no longer a scary day," said Kingsland Elementary Principal Christopher Priebe, sharing how parents and students can track grades and progress on the Kingsland School View parent access website, now available on the Kingsland Public Schools website.

School View provides a portal for parents to monitor students' grades and what assignments are turned in or missing and to communicate with teachers, and also alerts them about low balances in students' lunch accounts, offers an opportunity for them to deposit lunch money without having to send a check with their children, allows them to monitor what their child is eating, and more.

"We used to have another system, JMC, which was also known as 'Parent Access,' but we've switched to this one, School View, which is also called 'TIES' on the teachers' side.

"It's where we warehouse data - it holds a lot of info in a very user-friendly way. Teachers can put in grades, and parents can track what their child is doing at school, see assignments, scores, grades and lunch accounts."

Priebe gave an example of a fifth grader whose assignment may not have been turned in.

"If a parent wants to find out why their student didn't get a grade on something, all they have to do is log in and see whether the teacher left any comments, like if a fifth grader's math assignment wasn't turned in."

Teachers can use TIES and School View to take attendance, cross-reference data between students' grades and tests, list reasons why a student's work is in need of attention or is improving, contact parents - either individually or by the entire class list - and keep records of how entire grades of students are faring. They can color code data to show what learning trends are taking hold and make adjustments accordingly, be prepared for incoming classes at the beginning of a school year, and have a general overview of how their teaching methods might be working in the classroom.

The administration employs TIES and School View to track enrollment, journal students' skills and behavior, plan for curriculum enrichment and staff training.

"The administration can isolate skills and behavior - we have the ability to look at data. We can break down who's enrolled, and we can graph from one year to the next how students are doing in a particular subject. It's nice to be able to have a conversation with teachers about training and why we experienced a dip in math as a district in 2008 and reached a high in 2009.

"The way education is going, we are focusing on data so that we have a benchmark. Before teachers meet students, they can know students' scores, strengths and weaknesses, and even though students are not just scores, it helps with interventions for students. As teachers, it's wonderful because they can have a one-click report on students' performance ... if a student is performing below standards, they can motivate students to do better."

Priebe encouraged parents to sign up for School View so that teachers can share information on students through TIES, lending another tool to families whose children might need a little push or have accomplished so much that they're striving to satisfy their curiosity while in school.

He commented, "None of it takes the place of students using their planners, but it is helpful for monitoring their grades and helping them in setting goals for themselves so their final grades aren't a surprise."

The transition from JMC to School View and TIES was slightly bumpy, but parents have been supportive, nonetheless.

Priebe noted, "I applaud the community and families for being supportive and patient with the transition from the old system to School View because it happened during the school year.

"We were taking information from the old system, and with some of it, we had to start over again. That took time, and people were incredibly patient with us. Now that it's up and running, people are using it more."

He elaborated, "The nice part is a high percentage of parents are using this. Parent feedback has been mostly positive. If they're not using it, we'd like them to consider giving it a try. We hope that it helps extend the conversation about education at home ... anytime we can extend the conversation at home, we're happy."

For more information or to sign up for School View, call 507-346-7276 to speak with any of the school secretaries, or visit the Kingsland website at www.kingsland.k12.mn.us, or email editor@kingsland.k12.mn.us.