Cable's Leaders in Learning: Bridge Builder

Subject: Technology
Grade Level: All
Source: Cable in the Classroom

As a web developer for the Mesa County Valley School District, Jenann Wakefield found that parents were looking for a way to communicate easily with teachers and review information on the progress of their children in school. So Wakefield went to work, talking with teachers and parents so as to understand the types of information needed. The result is "Parent Bridge," a simple and secure web application that includes data from the district's various systems to provide a portal that parents, students, school administrators and teachers can access online.

Understanding that not every student household is equipped with a computer and Internet access, Wakefield partnered with Bresnan Communications and a local grocery store chain to provide computer kiosks with high-speed Internet in grocery stores. The kiosks allow parents to log on to the system remotely to review their children's information, including district, school and teacher messages, grades, assignment scores, transcript information, standardized test scores, lunch purchases, attendance records and verify that the school has up-to-date emergency and contact information. Parents can easily send messages to their children's teachers.

A survey of parents found the program a success. Results showed that 89 percent of parent respondents think they know more about what is happening in school, 87 percent are able to communicate more easily with teachers, 89 percent think their children are more aware of their own progress and 67 percent see improvement in their child's grades. Teachers also responded positively, with 94 percent surveyed saying they thought the program increased communication with parents.

The program was launched at two schools in 2003. After its success, it was subsequently launched at secondary schools. Parents were delighted with the program and they requested it be implemented in elementary schools as well. Today, Parent Bridge is in 34 of the school system's 41 schools. During the 2006 school year, the system received 1.1 million logins.

"The partnership helped the district give parents access to a resource to help their children achieve. District staff now feel that they can use this tool to reach parents without previous limitations, and can continue to build upon the connection this technology has helped create among parents, students and the schools."

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