McLean Middle School has become the third pilot school in the 109 for Fort Worth ISD’s implementation of the Parent Portal.

The online program allows parents to view their child’s grades and absences as soon as the teacher enters the information. Parents can set academic and attendance standards for their child and will receive email notifications if their child falls below those expectations.

The Parent Portal aims to open dialogue between parents and students about academic performance by giving busy parents a quicker way to stay informed about their child’s schoolwork.

McLean parent Jackie Ferguson is confident that Parent Portal’s quick dispersal of information will work for students too.

"Kids today have access to the internet and have cell phones, they’re used to up to the minute information," Ferguson said.

In addition to monitoring student activity, the Parent Portal distributes district updates via email and displays teacher contact information.

District employee and McLean mother Maria Phillips said the program is largely dependent upon the teachers frequently updating information and inputting grades.

"I think it will take a few months to get everyone on board and everyone using it, but it’s a great tool for parents," Phillips said.

If the Parent Portal is as expedient as FWISD administrators hope, the dialogue between parents and their children concerning their academics won’t come only after report cards.

"It won’t be ‘Oh my gosh, what happened the last six weeks,’ it will be, ‘What happened last week? Let’s see what we can do to adjust,’" Ferguson said.

According to an article on The Wall Street Journal online, some of the most frequent users of these programs are students themselves. Tania Williams, a McLean mother and PTA member, said that if her son can see his grades and how he is doing it will motivate him to try harder in areas where he is having difficulty.

Phillips and Williams said that some students may not like Parent Portal’s eye in the classroom, but that most students would use it as a tool with their parents.

The Parent Portal is one of dozens of new programs being emplaced across the country which integrate the Internet and the classroom to allow parents to closely monitor their child’s schoolwork. Crowley ISD, 14 miles south of Fort Worth, has a similar program called Home Access Center. Carroll ISD in the Mid-Cities, which serves Southlake and portions of Grapevine, Colleyville and Westlake, maintains a similar tool known as Family Access.

Two other 109 schools, Lily B. Clayton Elementary and McLean 6th Grade Center, were part of the original 12 pilot schools in Fort Worth which had Parent Portal last year. Paschal High School was added on Oct.3, along with 15 other schools to bring the district total to 42 schools.

The plan is for Parent Portal to go district wide by January according to the FWISD Facebook page.