A Look at the Madison School District’s Use of Infinite Campus

Susan Troller:

Since Andie was in 6th grade – she’ll be entering 8th grade Sept. 1 – the Smith family has used Infinite Campus, an electronic data system that gives parents access to information about how students are doing in school. It often provides more information than the typical middle school student brings home and it helps parents know from week-to-week what’s going on in the classroom. Madison, like most other Dane County school districts, has been using some form of electronic communication system for the last several years.
“I don’t have to ask to look at her planner anymore,” says Smith. “And, her group of teachers at Toki wrote a weekly newsletter last year that I could read online. When your kids get into middle school, they’ve got more classes, and parents generally have fewer connections with the teachers so I really appreciate the way it works.”
For the first time this year, Smith, like the rest of the parents and guardians of the approximately 24,000 students in the Madison Metropolitan School District, is using the online system to enroll her children in class. She also has a son, Sam, who will be a 5th grader at Chavez Elementary this fall. District officials hope that giving parents a password and user ID at the enrollment stage will expand the number of parents using Infinite Campus. A primary goal is to help increase communication ties between home and school, which is a proven way to engage kids and boost academic achievement.
But whether all parents will take to the system remains to be seen. Despite the boom in electronic communication, there are plenty of homes without computers, especially in urban school districts like Madison where poverty levels are rising. The extent to which teachers will buy in is also unclear. Teachers are required to post report cards and attendance online, but things like test scores, assignments and quizzes will be discretionary.

Much more on Infinite Campus and “Standards Based Report Cards”, here.

One thought on “A Look at the Madison School District’s Use of Infinite Campus”

  1. We pre-enrolled the first day it was possible on-line. That made things much quicker at the high school (Memorial), but did not speed anything up at all for us at the Middle School (Jefferson). That said, I think it’s a great idea, but totally depends on access to computers that many of our students don’t have (or parents who are uncomfortable using them).
    Also, half of my son’s HIGH SCHOOL teachers never put assignments OR tests and quiz grades on the Infinite Campus system last year. The ones who did, rarely updated them, so we never really knew on any given day what our son had finished or not, what was on time or late, and how he did.
    The parent who claims she “never has to look at her daughter’s planner anymore” is in for a big shock when her daughter gets into middle or high schools with far more students assigned to each teacher, and far less prep time in the middle of each day for teachers to keep up with posting assignments or progress for each student. IF you get the assignments, their due dates, and the quiz/test dates even LISTED in InfiniteCampus in the first place, the teachers simply don’t have time to update them more than once a week for the 150-200 students they see per day; even half of the teachers who do try to post progress, don’t do it more than once per quarter, and the system shuts down access to parents and students a week before the end of a quarter, so you literally have no way of looking up anything for 1-2 weeks at a time. For keeping track of daily info/communications, the Infinite Campus system has not impressed our family AT ALL.

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