The days of waiting for progress reports and report cards to find out how well students are doing in school are coming to an end for many families.
New software rolling out across South Carolina schools allows parents to check in anytime they want. They can see test grades, scores on class work and homework, their student's schedule, messages from teachers and even whether their child attended each class on time.
Students can use it too.
It's called PowerSchool Parent Portal. York and Clover schools have already opened it up to families. Rock Hill's three high schools will start in February with middle and elementary schools following later in the year. Fort Mill schools will test it at Springfield Middle next semester and roll it out districtwide in August.
"Before, you would just wait for the interim report," said Gloria Sharp, whose son Zachary is a senior at York Comprehensive High and daughter Taylr is in eighth grade at York Middle. "I stay abreast more now. It's just right here at my fingertips."
Sharp said checking in several times a month has helped spot areas where her children needed to study more.
Parent Portal is one component of PowerSchool, an electronic warehouse for student information that all the state's public schools are getting.
It replaces the state's former system, which was 10 years old and not Web-based.
The previous system was so out of date that the manufacturer was no longer going to service it, S.C. Department of Education spokesman Jim Foster said.
"PowerSchool provides teachers and other district officials with easy access to more detailed student information - virtually all student information, everything from test scores, academic courses and attendance to discipline and immunization records," Foster said. "It allows ... educators to analyze performance data to identify areas of strength or weakness for each student, monitor student progress and keep student data updated electronically."
Another plus is Parent Portal stores data over time. That means parents will eventually be able to see a child's performance over the entire school career.
"Anything we have that can provide parents with useful information on how their students are doing is helpful," York schools technology director Ray Stemmer said.
Only about a quarter of York students' families are using the program.
Stemmer suspects that's because of the district's rural nature and pervasive poverty, which limits the number of families with Internet access.
The amount and timeliness of students' grades and assignments available depends on teachers' diligence, Rock Hill schools Associate Superintendent Luanne Kokolis said.
Teachers will train on the program in January before Rock Hill's high schools hold an open house where parents are introduced to the service.