Parents are urged to ask for student records

Request by PTA Council linked to problems with high school software program

April 21, 2006|By JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV SUN REPORTER | JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV SUN REPORTER,SUN REPORTER

The PTA Council of Howard County is asking parents of high school students to request transcripts and other student achievement records from their schools to ensure that a program used by the system has not altered student data.

The council sent school PTA presidents a notice this month, asking them to encourage parents to request grade-point average ranking sheets and transcripts.

"We're just asking the parents to go over them in case there are errors," Mary Jane Barbato-Grauso, president of the council. "Rather than leave it up to this program, to be on the safe side, we want them to get a copy of the transcript and calculate their GPA themselves."

The Student Management System, provided by Burnaby, British Columbia-based Chancery Software Ltd., has been a problem for the school system since it was implemented at the county's 12 high schools in July.

Report card problems

The $570,000 program has been blamed for delays in high school report cards that have required employees to spend additional hours to rectify problems, resulting in overtime.

"It's taking a lot more staff time," said Diane Mikulis, vice chairman of the school board, who has seen SMS glitches while volunteering in the River Hill High School guidance office. "Fortunately, we have dedicated staff, but they are putting in a lot more hours to make this thing work."

Central office personnel have repeatedly said that there have not been any known cases of SMS glitches negatively affecting seniors.

"This is not to point any fingers," Barbato-Grauso said. "This is to make sure if there are any issues, that things can be rectified so that things can be worked out."

Bob Glascock, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said he has determined how much overtime the system has paid employees who have worked extra hours because of SMS, but he will not make the information public until he meets with Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin and school board members.

Glascock said it was procedure not to release information until after the superintendent and school board members were notified.

Glascock said he would share the overtime data at the school board meeting April 27.

Contract review

In addition to SMS, the school system purchases other software from Chancery that is used in elementary and middle schools.

Glascock has said that the school system will have to re-evaluate its 20-year contract with Chancery in the coming weeks.

john-john.williams@baltsun.com

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