For many students, the thought of applying for college stirs up vague anxiety. Many dread that they will not be able to attend the university of their choice. A tool gifted to us by the county as a means to fight that anxiety is PowerSchool, a system that allows students to neurotically check their grades and then to despair when they do not make the marks they would prefer.
While this system may temporarily relieve students of the nervousness they feel when they aren’t sure what their grade is, it should be considered whether or not this service is doing students any sort of considerable favor, or truly encouraging personal growth, rather than simply fostering a sense of dependency within students.
Learning to manage one’s workload is key tacit knowledge that must be employed regularly as an adult. Managers are only so helpful in assisting an employee with managing their personal workload. When we obsessively check Powerschool to ensure that we are completing what has been assigned to us, we deny ourselves the opportunity to develop the ability to manage and keep track of tasks mentally. PowerSchool, here, functions as a crutch. By requiring yourself to maintain a mental agenda of what you need to do, you strengthen your memory and your task management abilities, all critical skills in the adult world. When young people rely on a tool such as Powerschool to survive day to day, it deprives them of a sense of self-sufficiency which is critical to develop as a young person.
Checking PowerSchool too often is also a sure way to deprive yourself of learning to evaluate the quality of your own work. When you check PowerSchool after you turn everything in to make sure it has a high grade on it, you care less about what you did wrong and how you could do better. Rather, you’re more concerned simply with how you could raise your grade. In the real world, the working world, there are no numeric grading systems–your future in your place of employment will depend heavily on your ability to ensure your work is quality.
PowerSchool can also become a burden when parents become engrossed in helicoptering over the children, using PowerSchool to constantly calm their own anxiety. This denies their children the sense of self sufficiency a young adult deserves. PowerSchool expressly caters to some parents’ desire to monitor their child. Denying a young adult freedom and self sufficiency, despite the best intentions, is one of the single most harmful things a parent can do to their child and a sure way to prevent them from growing into a capable adult.
Moreover, the PowerSchool addiction fuels student apathy towards real learning and critical skill development. Such apathy is largely a consequence of the grading system itself; students are more concerned with attaining the grades necessary to gain admission into a prestigious institution than developing the knowledge and skillset that will be needed to succeed in university and beyond. As a consequence, many students leave high school carrying much information, but very little knowledge about the subjects that they have studied. A number of students don’t understand how the things they have memorized will help them, and laud the freshman year of college as the first year where they will learn anything that will get them anywhere. This is not, nor should it be, true.
When the primary concern of a student is that they keep their grades above a line they set mentally, it’s easy to focus only on doing well on the assignments that matter to those grades, like tests and quizzes. No one truly learns anything by swallowing facts and repeating them a few days later. Sadly, this is the mindset that Powerschool enforces.
The reasons for keeping PowerSchool around appear strong, but are ultimately illogical. You will hear that it’s good to keep track of your grades, but this is quite literally obsessing over things that you have already turned in and can no longer change. It sounds reasonable that there is no harm in reassuring yourself that your grades are adequate every day, but when you don’t make the marks that you want, there is no reason to torture yourself over things that are out of your hands. Knowing that you don’t have the grades you wish for won’t encourage any lasting sense of motivation out of most people, just disappointment and sorrow. Furthermore, if you’re honestly trying your best, seeing grades lower than you like everyday can only foster despair. It is more appropriate to look to the future, do your best, and worry about grades when report cards come around.
In summary, PowerSchool is a virtual manifestation of elements that hold our school system away from its purpose of a quality universal education. Public school as a quality universal education for the average citizen is often lost in a narcissistic belief–and, unfortunately, a bitter truth–that public high school is merely a competition to gain entry into a “real” school. PowerSchool reinforces this belief by making students’ grades their constant and only concern.