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May 11, 2011

Online Grades

The house is finally quiet, the kids gone. She pours her coffee and slides in front of the computer. Pulse quickening, she grabs the mouse, clicks the bookmarked page, clacks out her password — and steels herself for what she'll see.

"I actually get this adrenaline rush as it's loading," said the mother of two. "It's like you're watching the stock market. I'm almost holding my breath going, 'Is it going to be good?'"

She's peering at her kids' grades via an online gradebook, where today's students — and their hand-wringing parents — can monitor scores for every assignment, in every class. More and more middle schools and high schools across the nation are adopting these grade-reporting systems. And it's churning up anxiety among parents I know.

"I checked obsessively when I first had access to it and cursed those teachers who didn't update regularly," confessed a friend on the school board. "Then I realized the system administrator could see which parents were accessing their child's grades morning, mid morning, noon, afternoon, evening, midnight, and at 2 a.m. — and I backed off in shame."

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