The Hidden PowerSchool Revolution

One interesting omission from the current “Future of the American University” discussion is the effect that PowerSchool, now in use by over 10 million K-12 students, is having on parent and student expectation on real-time notification and assessment.

If you don’t know what PowerSchool is, take a look at the above video. While it shows the app, it’s important to realize that PowerSchool is just as comfortable working through a laptop, email alerts, SMS, or any channel the parent and child choose.

The effects of this are likely to be far more profound than many people realize. When my daughter wants to know what her homework is, she looks it up online. When I, as a parent, want to see why she is struggling in a subject I can pull up her graded assignments to see what was graded low, what was graded high, and what she didn’t turn in. Teachers are expected to get work graded in a timely manner and posts the grades into PowerSchool so that parents and students know where the grade stands at any point in the term. All homework must be posted, and parents expect periodic comments on student performance and effort.

I am not sure how long PowerSchool has been around. But in our community “Did you check PowerSchool?” has recently become a common question. It’s been normed, in other words.

There are good and bad things about PowerSchool, and I’m not going to argue the pedagogy it encourages. Let’s just say it’s a mixed bag.

But the expectation of real-time performance data and feedback it builds is stunning in its implications. Because of exposure to products like PowerSchool, students and parents are increasingly bringing those expectations into their freshman college classes. And that may change the culture of higher education as much as MOOCs or any other major trend…

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