The Documentation Dilemma in K-12 Parent Communication
“Being able to make calls and send messages and have it on record is important,” says Texas teacher Dianna Ramirez. The end of the school year is upon us, and many teachers are being asked to prove that they have been successfully making contact during distance learning. Sometimes they’re asked to provide EOY reports telling which students have not been reachable, have not turned in homework, or logged in—this request for teachers is no small task.
Even before remote learning, teachers would often spend more time documenting communication than actually communicating with stakeholders. Filling out call logs, printing out emails, and then filing all of those papers takes about three times longer than the call, text, or email itself. By the time most administrators would take these records up, it was already the end of the year and too late to make any type of adjustments.
The question then is: What is the use of communication documentation if classes are already over?
Coming out of distance learning, the need for communication records is markedly different than in previous years. Most districts will be assessing student progress, or lack thereof, and placing students in classes without the assistance of final assessment scores.
Records demonstrating parent participation, access to learning tools, whether or not a student was struggling with a particular subject, or whether or not a student was thriving with the assistance of their siblings/parents may lend some insight into the reality of learning at home and to what degree progress was being made.
Our next question: Shouldn't it always be this way?
Studies have long shown that parent engagement is a major factor in student success, so why have we allowed communication records to exist only as a failsafe in the event districts need to prove contact was made? “Having documentation creates an instant level of honest communication needed to have accountability,” says Texas teacher Debra Welch-Marks.
Conversations between parents and teachers offer insight into the unique characteristics, skills, challenges, and home life of each student. “I like having all of my student information so organized and at my fingertips,” Mississippi teacher Nicki Pierce uses SchoolStatus for parent communication. “If a parent asks a question about state test scores, absences, or last contact, I can quickly and easily access that information.” Communication detail enhances the often stark data associated with assessments and grades, and it expands parent-teacher partnerships. Dusty, year-old call log binders do nothing to add to the current situation of a student.
Teachers as well as campus and district-level leadership need access to parent communication content throughout the school year. That requires tools that automatically record and store parent communication without extra work. “SchoolStatus is an amazing way for me to reach out to parents,” shares Arkansas teacher Tamara Caston. “It is also a means for me to have documented proof that I have reached out in order to meet district requirements.”
- Provide proof of contact or attempted contact
- Eliminate “he said, she said” arguments
- Encourage professional behavior
- Enhance holistic understanding of individual students
- Detail metrics for communication frequency for setting district or campus-level goals
- Increase accessibility and oversight for district-level administrators
“SchoolStatus has been a very valuable tool for my staff as documentation of parent contact,” shares Mississippi Principal Wanda Quon, “Especially during this time with the pandemic.” With automatic call recording and logging, educators have peace of mind knowing their efforts are being counted—with no extra work on their part. “I can call, text, and send broadcast messages and EVERYTHING is documented in one place,” says Arkansas teacher Maridith Gebhart. “I especially like the recording and transcript of live calls.”
SchoolStatus gives educators a real-time picture of all data associated with their students including benchmarks, state assessments, grades, discipline, attendance, etc. From the same view, educators have tools to contact parents via text, email, or call while documenting the communication on the student record. No other parent communication technology provides tools for data analytics and parent communication from within a single system.