Pekin Consolidated High School District 303
Quick, impactful, and paperless
Efficient communication among teachers, staff, and families is more important than ever—it’s the key to academic achievement. Pekin Community High School District 303 (PCHS) knew the stakes were high and that they faced challenges to delivering academic information to students and families.
Once upon a time at PCHS, students and families did not have a quick option for checking grades or class schedules. Instead, students would receive paper copies of schedules disseminated in congested hallways as the semester began. Report cards presented another burden of printing, folding, sealing, and rising postage costs. Amy Hubner, the district’s assistant principal for operations, observed, “Another obvious issue was knowing whether or not the paper grade report actually made it to the student’s home for their parents to see.”
The district found a surefire solution in Skyward Family and Student Access, which would deliver grades and important class information to families, as well as enhance communication between school and home. After making the transition to their new solution, everyone saw an immediate impact on district communication and family engagement.
“I think the overall impact of Family and Student Access has been very positive,” Hubner said. “Both parents and students have shared that they love the easy access and, most recently, the online grade reports.”
Keep parents aware of academics
Enhanced communication between the district and home was Hubner’s top priority for the district’s Family and Student Access implementation. The portal allows students and their parents or family members to quickly view grades, attendance, and messages from teachers.
Heidi Cooper, business office clerk, and Fred Vogt, registrar, agree that the family portal is central for students and their families. Vogt said parents can now immediately access information. Cooper explained how parents can stay more involved in their child’s education by proactively addressing concerns.
“Say they started out in a course with a great grade and then all of the sudden it starts slipping downward,” Cooper proposed. “[Parents] then can ask the student, see what the issue might be, and get in contact with the teacher.”
Skyward Family and Student Access has been well received by students and families. Cooper said 50 to 60% of parents and families have logged in at least once during the school year. As the district goes paperless, she predicts the percentage will continue to increase.
The family portal means the district can quickly make grade reports and schedules available to students and parents. Hubner said teachers use Family Access on a regular basis to students’ parents. Students are becoming more proactive in their own education thanks to Student Access, which displays their most current grades.
Save the district thousands
“The transition to paperless has gone a lot smoother than I could have predicted,” Hubner said. Staff members agree—plus the transition has eliminated certain costs.
“We transitioned to electronic schedules and had very little issue,” she explained. “We made sure to properly inform students and parents of the change and made their schedules available in ample time for them to print off a hard copy if they preferred. We also allowed students to print copies in our computer labs.”
Vogt agreed. “The distribution of schedules, report cards, and progress reports was improved.” In fact, the process saved the district thousands.
“Report cards and progress reports postage ran us between $8,000 and $9,000 a year—just for that piece,” Cooper said.
Skyward Family and Student access have brought the district other benefits, too. Vogt noted that paperless report cards reduce the volume of returned mail. Cooper added that Skyward’s online portal has streamlined processes for guidance counselors, since students register online for classes. The district is pleased parents and students are enjoying faster access to this important information.
“We have been able to make both grade reports and schedules accessible to both students and parents much quicker,” Hubner said.
Increase engagement with students
Teachers report an increase in parents contacting them to discuss concerns with students’ grades. Students are more aware of their own progress because they have quick access to check their grades and take initiative in the event of missing assignments.
Naomi, a PCHS student, says she uses the Student Access portal several times a day to see assignments, grades, class averages, and comments teachers leave for her to read. She says the application is very easy to use.
“I would absolutely encourage any school district to take advantage of Skyward’s Family and Student Access,” Naomi said. “Skyward helps me stay organized and contributes to my overall success in school.”
At PCHS, Skyward’s comprehensive family portal solution enhances communication and increases engagement in the learning process. Hubner and the district community appreciate the online application and look forward to making further communication strides across the district.
“I would absolutely recommend Family and Student Access to other districts,” Hubner said. “It has provided us with multiple useful tools, and we continue to explore additional ways we can fully utilize it in our building.”