Powerschool: Source of responsibility or stress?

Chase Moran, Senior Reporter

Powerschool is a very useful tool for students, teachers, and parents alike. Teachers can keep up on grades actively and relay this information to students without having to return papers and waste class time. Students can keep track of their missing assignments and grades, and parents can do the same. This presents great opportunities for students to act responsibly, but it could also be opening the door for more stress. Is Powerschool better or worse for the South community?

It’s no secret that high school has been very stressful for many students in recent times. Research from the past twenty years has shown a startling amount of stress in teens relating to school work. However, measuring this in any sort of quantifiable way has proven to be difficult. “I am not sure that any good studies have measured it,” said Marya Gwadz, a senior research scientist at NYU. “But I will say I think stress among high school students is high and has certainly not reduced in the past 5 years.  I think there is more awareness of student stress, including the newspapers and the media, and I think some schools are trying to address it.”

For many high schoolers, grades are the primary source of their stress. With worries about getting into colleges or getting scholarships, high expectations from parents, and time taken up by extracurricular activities, it’s no wonder this environment has lead to grades being the focus of students and parents alike, especially with instant access to online grades. Whenever a teacher adds an assignment, adds or changes a grade, or marks attendance, parents and students both can see the change the next time they visit the Powerschool site. There’s even an option in the app to get push notifications on your phone whenever grades or attendance change.

With these real time updates, seeing every bump in the road and getting averages that will only make up a minor portion of the final grade can cause more harm than good in some cases. What if a student forgets their homework on the first day of the marking period? Their grade on Powerschool will be a complete zero until the next assignment is graded, and they could be well below passing for weeks even if they get perfect scores on everything else. Combine this situation with the all-too-common overbearing parent and this can cause plenty of family pressure.

“It’s interesting to look at online gradebooks and stress, as I think it can both add to stress for some students and detract from stress for others,” said Midd South psychologist Dr. Jodi Erichsen. “Depending on the personality of student, it can either help with stress levels or add to stress levels by allowing one to see exactly where one stands in a class grade wise. Some students may see a lower grade and tend to give up, causing them to get even lower grades. Other students may see a low grade and get motivated to do better.”

Despite this chance of additional stress, there are still plenty of things these students can do to reduce this stress. “When it comes to grades, I do feel that the biggest stress reliever is not to allow yourself to get too far behind in your work,” Dr. Erichsen advises. “Healthy ways to relieve stress include physical activity such as working out or participating in a sport. There are many breathing exercises and techniques that also are helpful in reducing stress.” Dr. Gwadz provided her own advice as well. “Cultivate supportive relationships with faculty, family, and peers,” she recommends. “Talk to your parents about how you are doing. Surround yourself with peers who are managing stress well and living in a way you admire. Balance will get you farther in life than a really good test score.”

People are too complex for anybody to be able to make a net judgement on how online gradebooks affect them. However, it has proven to be a great way for many students to keep track of their work and progress throughout the school year. While some students may take very well to this, Powerschool has undoubtedly added stress to the lives of others. It is important for these students to take initiative and try their best to manage this stress, because Powerschool isn’t going away anytime soon. If you experience stress from grades, talk to a psychologist and listen to the advice given by them. It could end up both making your life easier and improving your grades.