Personalized Education Plans for Parents

In a society of blended families, separated spouses and two working parents, schools must find new ways to maintain strong family partnerships.

In Wayne Township, parents can be brought squarely into the center of their child’s education through our school district’s Internet-based program called the Personalized Education Plan. This is a password-protected program available to any administrator, teacher, student and parent with legal rights to a child’s educational records.

PEP reflects daily student data vital to parent communication. It also maintains a student’s performance history and can display cumulative data on nearly all screens. Parents can view their child’s information through an online connection from home or work. They can access grades, assessments, course schedules, attendance, discipline records, student interests, goals, learning preferences, lunch account balance and much more.

PEP has become a valuable tool, allowing all users to see developing trends, identify interventions and reward success.

Easy Understanding

For families new to the school district or for students who are changing schools, PEP provides a direct link to our district transportation system. This link provides bus stop location, pickup and drop-off times and a detailed map of the neighborhood.

PEP displays considerable academic information. Weekly grades and individual assignments are a powerful component. Parents can intervene early and support progress at home. Through PEP, grades are made available prior to parent-teacher conferences. During the course of the year, parents and teachers can conduct informative conferences by phone while looking at identical PEP screens.

Under the increased standardized testing required by No Child Left Behind, parents often find it a challenge to interpret the test reports. In PEP we have created a user-friendly display with clearly marked lines for each increment of achievement. Parents can see at a quick glance how their child’s score compared to our state’s passing cut score. The display allows for easy interpretation of current testing , as well as providing a historical perspective. Parents can see with the click of the mouse how their child is progressing from year to year on standardized tests.

Recently, our secondary school students were invited to view this assessment graph individually with their homeroom teacher. The teacher and student were able to hold a constructive conversation about the student’s testing history, discuss areas of strength and need and create a plan of improvement. Teachers believe this was a powerful practice and discovered increased student motivation toward testing. We hope parents, too, will have this type of discussion with their children now that all stakeholders are able to easily access and understand important test data.

Student Inclinations

One aspect of PEP that sets itself apart from any other program of its kind is a parent and student inventory. In the student personal information area of PEP, all students from grades K-12 are given the opportunity to complete three customized electronic surveys that address individual interests, goals and study habits. The survey results can be viewed by students, parents, teachers and administrators.

By reading their children’s responses to each survey, parents learn much about their child’s preferences. Numerous parents of teen-agers have been delighted by the information obtained through PEP. When communication at home is a challenge, parents can turn to PEP to get to know their child better. By knowing their children’s study habits and preferred style of learning, parents can better assist their children with homework.

As technology becomes more pervasive in our school district, the power of its use as a school-home communication tool is expanding. PEP certainly has found its mark as a means to helping families support their children’s educational endeavors.

Karen Carter is the facilitator of the Personalized Education Plan in the Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township, 1220 S. High School Road, Indianapolis, IN 46241. E-mail: karen.carter@wayne.k12.in.us. Michele Walker is coordinator of math, science and assessment in Wayne Township.