In order to determine a number of common registration types which parents encounter during the school year, a review was made of two small (under 5,000 student) school districts, Jericho School District in New York and Solon City Schools in Ohio; two mid-size (150,000-200,000 student) school districts, the School District of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina; and two large (800,000+ student) school districts, the Los Angeles Unified School District in California and the New York City Education Department in New York. Seven common registration types were found among all three sized school districts. These include the ability for parents to register or sign up to review grades and tests, volunteer opportunities, and transportation updates. Details on each of these registration types are outlined below and on the attached spreadsheet.
After having determined several common parent registrations, further investigation was made to determine some of the companies who provide services surrounding these types of sign ups. Nine companies have been identified, including PowerSchool, Here Come the Bus, and Pay4SchoolStuff. Details on each of the companies identified are included below and on the PROVIDERS/PLATFORMS tab of the attached spreadsheet.
- Parent Portal (Grades)
In school districts across the country, parents can sign up to view their student's classroom information throughout the school year via a parent portal. These parent portals are information rich student information systems which allow parents to access nearly real time data about their child's classroom assignments, test scores, and grades. Parents can normally register on the parent portal at any time during the school year, though it is not a requirement in all districts to re-register from one school year to the next.
- PTO/PTA/Leadership Teams
In the United States, school districts have a variety of parent organizations which include PTAs (Parent Teacher Associations), PTOs (Parent Teacher Organizations), SLTs (School Leadership Teams), and Advisory Councils. PTAs and PTOs typically are a division of a national governing body while SLTs and advisory councils are normally based at a school or district level. Parents can opt to join these types of organizations via a variety of methods, which include paper forms in beginning-of-the-year parent packs, online registrations, and in-class sign ups.
- Volunteer Opportunities
Parents can register or sign up for a variety of classroom and district volunteer opportunities. Some districts require a minimal background check during the registration process. This is not a mandatory registration, though some districts insist upon some type of registrations before being able to help in their student's classroom.
- Transportation Reminders
School districts around the US give their parents the opportunity to register for notifications on their student's bus transportation that would include updates on delays or driver changes. Registration for these notifications are not mandatory and can be done at anytime during the school year.
- AfterSchool Programs
US school districts offer after school programs for students which parents must sign up or register for. While the programs themselves are not mandatory, some type of registration for the program when participating is required. Some districts offer this registration online, though with the number of school districts across the country it is not possible to ascertain if all registrations can be completed online.
- Payment Processing
There are school districts across the country who have implemented a way for parents to pay for school fees, field trip payments, or even meals online. Though there is no way to determine if the registration for these types of online payments is widespread, it was noted in at least two of the school districts (Solon City Schools and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools) reviewed in the collection of this data.
- Beginning of Year Forms
Often, at the beginning of the school year, a variety of forms (including emergency contact forms, medical information forms, and volunteer forms). Some schools within districts have automated and or digitized these forms to be able to completed online, however it does not appear from the six districts reviewed within this research that this is a district level decision.
PROVIDERS and PLATFORMS OFFERING SCHOOL RELATED REGISTRATIONS
Blackboard offers a variety of solutions for school districts which include digital learning environments, virtual classrooms, accessibility, and customized school and district websites. The company boasts 20 million K-12 users each day and is currently used by 70 of the largest 100 school districts in the United States.
Moodle is a 'free, online Learning Management system enabling educators to create their own private website filled with dynamic courses that extend learning, any time, anywhere'. It is an open-source platform that allows users to use or modify the software for commercial and non-commercial uses. As this is an open-source platform, a specific
Canvas is a learning management system and is used by 'more than 3,000 universities, school districts, and institutions around the world'. Classroom information is personalized, and customized by the teacher.
PowerSchool is a 'leading school operations student information system solution for educational institutions'. The platform includes the availability for the school system and the parent to track a student's classroom activities, tests, and grades.
- Here Comes the Bus
Here Comes the Bus is an award-wining downloadable app for Apple and Android that allows a school district to implement transportation tracking. The service has 'more than a million downloads and earned rave reviews: 4.6 stars from more than 25,000 reviews on the Apple app store'. The app has been developed by Synovia Solutions LLC.
- SignUp Genius
SignUp Genius is used by over 18 million people worldwide including for scheduling 'parent teacher conferences, organizing volunteers and planning school book fairs and fundraisers' with online sign up sheets.
- Sign Up
Sign Up is a online sign up sheets platform which allows teachers, schools, and parents to create and track signups for things like conferences, events, and volunteer opportunities. The site offers 'simple, intuitive SignUp sheets and scheduling tools make it easy for people to join together and say YES to pitching in, signing up, and helping out'.
Remind is a platform which 'helps schools and districts reach and engage with their communities'. Teachers or districts can use the service to send messages about assignments and other important announcements to students and parents who have signed up. The platform currently has 31 million users.
Pay4SchoolStuff is a payment platform used by clubs, PTAs. PTOs, schools, and districts to help with 'ticket sales, fundraising donations, t-shirt purchases, field trip signups, school lunches and more) while parents are able to login, make their payments, complete forms, and volunteer to help out — all in one convenient place'.