The Downside of Grade-Tracking Apps

The Cut explores how parents can get too obsessed
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 5, 2023 9:31 AM CST
One Hazard of Grade-Tracking Apps: Obsessed Parents
Stock photo.   (Getty/Comstock)

Most public and private high schools these days use some version of learning-management software, tech that allows parents to check on their children's grades and whether they're keeping up with their schoolwork in general. The principle behind popular ones like Schoology is straightforward enough—"research has long tied family engagement in schools to better outcomes for students," writes Gail Cornwall at The Cut. But her look at the issue focuses on the downside, when parents become obsessed with the push notifications notifying them that an assignment is late or their child's GPA has dropped. "There's a lot of yelling and screaming at the kids," says New York City psychiatrist Dr. Jodi Gold. "'Why didn't you turn in this math homework, this Spanish homework?'"

It can be a nightmare for the students, their teachers, and even the parents themselves, who can't quite navigate when it's appropriate to step in. Worst case, it can shift the focus away from actual learning. "It used to be that during parent-teacher conferences, I would tell parents how interested their child seemed in the class and how they were working with others," one longtime teacher tells Cornwall. "Post-online grade books, it became a very pointed conversation over a spreadsheet." Another danger is the creation of too-dependent teens. "I have many, many super-high-functioning young adults starting college, and they literally can't place a Starbucks order without texting their moms," says Gold. Read the full story, which includes the view of parents as well. As one sums it up: "Do I trust the app? Do I trust my kid?" (Or check out other Longforms.)

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