By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer
DREXEL HILL – The days of hiding a homework assignment or a not-so-good report card from parents are over.
GradeConnect, a web-based gradebook and course management system that allows parents to access their children’s homework and grades after teachers post them, is now available through the 20 archdiocesan secondary schools.
Created by Lou Osinski, an instructor at Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast High School in Drexel Hill, GradeConnect’s clients include schools across the country as well as in China, Colombia and an American school in Beirut, Lebanon.
“I give it an A-plus,” said Edwin Rodriguez, father of Mario, a freshman at West Philadelphia Catholic High School. “I look at it every day. If I have a question, I will e-mail the teacher.”
As an effective check-and-balance, GradeConnect settles an age-old question between parents and children: “I ask him every day, ‘Do you have homework?'” Edwin Rodriguez said.
If, for whatever reason, Mario doesn’t remember, “He will refer me to GradeConnect,” Edwin added. “It keeps him on top of things, and me also.”
In addition to course descriptions, assignments and their due dates as well as scores on homework, quizzes and exams, teachers may also post daily updates to grades to help students and their parents track academic standing. Because GradeConnect has the capacity to estimate quarter and final grades, teachers, students and parents can quickly learn what is necessary for a student to keep or improve a given grade.
Privacy is ensured, as an inspanidual student’s information may only be accessed by the student and his or her parents through student and parent-specific accounts.
Since the archdiocesan Office of Catholic Education adopted GradeConnect at high schools last fall, Kennedy-Kenrick High School in Norristown has noticed a marked increase in academic achievement. At the close of the first marking period last November, 56 percent of the school’s 508 students had received first or second honors, an increase of approximately 11 percent, the principal estimated.
“I absolutely attribute it to the awareness of the parents as to the weekly progress of the students,” said Kennedy-Kenrick’s principal, Sister Janet M. Purcell, a Sister Servant of the Immaculate Heart of Mary who also serves as assistant principal for academic affairs.
The fact that GradeConnect was made by a teacher for teachers is what makes it “remarkable,” said Carol A. Cary, director of secondary curriculum and instruction for the Office of Catholic Education.
An extra bonus is that that Osinski, a 1986 alumnus of Cardinal Dougherty High School in Philadelphia, is one of the Archdiocese’s own.
“He continually revises and enhances the product to meet the needs of the archdiocesan users,” Cary said. “He is most accommodating and really understands the needs of teachers and students.”
Osinski is the president of GradeConnect, which is trademarked.
At Bonner and Prendergast, he teaches chemistry, physics, physical science and advanced placement computer science.
As a teacher, Osinski can attest to the assets of GradeConnect. “Because I constantly use the service, I’m constantly re-evaluating what I’ve done,” he said.
“I love teaching,” Osinski said, adding, “I’m a computer geek at heart.”
Charles Gallagher, a 1961 alumnus of Msgr. Bonner who teaches biology at Bonner and Prendergast, is in charge of the company’s customer service and public relations.
GradeConnect has also produced iSchoolSite, a content management system for school web sites.
For more information about GradeConnect used specifically in the archdiocesan high schools, visit the web site www.adphila.gradeconnect.com.
For general information about GradeConnect, links to the iSchoolsite and services the company provides in educational technology consulting and training, visit www.gradeconnect.com.
CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at (215) 587-2468 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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