When I was a kid, you went to school, and the only time you had to worry about your parents knowing about your grades was when reports cards came, or when progress reports came (not good) or when there was a phone call made (really not good.)

But today there are things like WebGrader, which is an online system that schools and teachers use to let not just the students, but the parents know exactly what is going on. I mean exactly. (Hello Big Brother!)


So the parent in me who cares about my child’s grades and wants to keep tabs on things thinks this is a good thing. (Even more so as I don’t get to talk with my child each day about school.) On the other hand, the parent in me who wants to see my child be responsible for themself without me having to keep a close watch wonders what damage this close monitoring might do. (Honestly, I’m pretty lucky, as my child is quite responsible, in school and in life.)

The open-source, sharing, collaborating, and hacking parent in me wishes they provided an API or at least RSS feeds to make it easier to use. Like most apps in this genre, it suffers from poor usability issues. They do allow you to receive Inbox messages via email, so that’s a start, but honestly, I don’t know if they plan to innovate from there. (I did send them feedback about some UI issues, and they were very receptive, so that’s a plus.)

In the end, I think it’s a good thing, and here’s why: People make mistakes. My daughter is a good student, but she was a bit overwhelmed by middle school, so the first time I logged into WebGrader, I saw an F, and there was a note from a teacher about a missing assignment. I asked my daughter about it and she said she turned it in. I sent the teacher a message asking her to discuss it with my daughter, and it turns out it was turned in, but with no name on it. Simple mistake. The next week I saw another F and when questioned, my daughter said she handed it in, and got it back – with an A on it. A simple message to the teacher revealed that the grade was entered wrong, and was indeed an A. Again, a simple mistake, but one I am glad I could catch.