AMERICAN parents are increasingly using the Internet to check their children's progress at school. About 300,000 parents have already signed up with the two principal websites that provide the service.
After receiving their own personal identification code, parents can log on to the sites 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and get status reports on assignments their children have and have not completed, that day's homework, and their overall progress on a course.
The parents, in turn, can send e-mail questions or comments to the teachers, who can also use the services to track attendance and manage other student data.
According to research by one of the two market leaders, Thinkwave.com, nine out of ten teachers in the estimated 600 schools that use it say that it is improving grades.
"We see it as a teacher productivity tool," said Rebecca Pieper, of Thinkwave.com, which was launched in August and has caught up with its three-year-old rival Homeworknow.com.
"It's designed to make teachers' jobs easier, to help them manage the enormous amount of data they have to use, and to help them keep in touch with parents."
She said that students log on more often than their parents, to check on their grades. The sites are free to schools and parents.