January 18, 2012 - It truly is the end of an era.
Oxford Community Schools is eliminating paper report cards beginning with the high school's in June.
"We believe report cards should not be a special event and that grades should never be a surprise to parents or students," according to an e-mail from district spokesperson Linda Lewis.
Parents will be able to view their children's report cards on-line at the district's PowerSchool website.
"By providing secure information online (attendance, grades, test scores, behavior, etc.), parents can always see how well their child is performing without having to wait for progress reports to come in the mail," Lewis wrote.
The web-based report cards will take affect district-wide for all schools beginning with the 2012-13 academic year.
Lewis indicated the change is part of the district's commitment "to going paperless wherever possible."
"Substantial savings can be realized by reducing the amount of postage, paper and resources we employ to communicate with families," she wrote. "The goal is to continue to provide outstanding service, but do it in a way that is much leaner and greener."
According to figures provided by Lewis, the district will save $7,300 annually by eliminating paper report cards.
However, she noted that "the driving motivation behind making report cards web-based is not financial, but rather to put timely information in the hands of parents regarding their child's performance."
"Parents should not have to wait until report cards come out to know how well their son or daughter has performed in a marking period," Lewis wrote. "We want them to have updated information daily, at their fingertips. The more information they have, the more ability they will have to influence the academic performance of their child."
Information regarding a student's performance is available through the PowerSchool website 24-7.
"Information is immediately available once a teacher enters a grade into his or her grade book," Lewis wrote.
So far, during the 2011-12 school year, 62.9 percent of students district-wide had their records accessed through PowerSchool. The highest percentage was at Oxford Middle School (94.6 percent), while the lowest was at Lakeville Elementary (39.3 percent).
The percentages for the other schools were as follows – Oxford High School 91.1 percent; Leonard Elementary 84.3 percent; Oxford Elementary 58.8 percent; Daniel Axford Elementary 58.1 percent; and Clear Lake Elementary 50.5 percent.
"Elementary schools have just started to use PowerSchool this year," Lewis noted. "As more information is posted on-line, we expect parent access to increase."
But what about parents who don't have internet access? How will they view their child's grades?
"Those households that do not have access to a computer and/or internet may contact their building principals for assistance," Lewis wrote.
Lewis noted that PowerSchool isn't the only avenue parents have to keep track of their children's performance.
"Parents are encouraged to learn about their child's progress by attending parent-teacher conferences and/or communicating directly with teachers by e-mail or phone," she wrote.
Lewis indicated there are other districts that have discontinued mailing report cards for K-12.
"They include Berkley, West Bloomfield and Rochester," she wrote. "Many others have partially eliminated report card mailings for specific grade levels and/or schools, and many are seriously considering the option."
"Not every Oakland County district responded to our inquiry about their report card practices," Lewis added. "It is possible there are many others that do not mail report cards on either a district-wide or partial basis."
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.