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‘Parent portals’ to help track students

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Gov. Susana Martinez wants to make it easier for parents to keep track of what is happening in their children’s classrooms.

Martinez, along with New Mexico education chief Hanna Skandera, announced Wednesday she will ask the Legislature for $1.2 million to help districts set up “parent portals.” The online portals, called “New Mexico Parent Connection,” would include access to grades, homework assignments, class announcements and attendance records.

“We cannot forget the importance of parental involvement when we talk about school reform,” Martinez said during a news conference at Bernalillo Middle School. “Research shows children with involved parents have better social skills, higher grades and enroll in harder classes, regardless of socioeconomic background. This is important for a place like New Mexico.”

Martinez said about one-third of the state’s school districts and charter school have a parent portal. Albuquerque Public Schools, Bernalillo Public Schools and Rio Rancho Public Schools all provide the service to an extent.

The $1.2 million would be shared with New Mexico’s 89 school districts and charter schools. However, it’s not clear what method the state will use to determine how much money each district gets or whether every district will participate.

Larry Behrens, spokesman for the New Mexico Public Education Department, said the state would reimburse districts that already have a parent portal.

“It would then free up funds for something else,” he said.

Skandera said she learned from talking with schools districts throughout the year that successfully communicating with parents is a concern. She said sometimes a note goes home but never makes it from the child’s backpack into the hands of parents.

“The top thing we hear from educators is they need ways to engage parents,” she said. “This will be a great tool to have.”

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