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Pinnacle, Online Grades, Skipping School and More 912

Ishkibble writes "The Matrin County School Board has a new way of post a student's grades online for a parent to check. Pinnacle is the name of the program, a simple java applet. Not only does Pinnacle log student's grades, but also attendance and conduct. The way grades are accessed are by inputting the first 6 digits of your social security number and the first 5 letters of your last name. With a logon system as simple as this, one has to question the security and privacy of the students. This has been making my life a living hell for the past 2 months, every night my parents go on and check to see if i have any homework and won't let me do anything till it's done"
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Pinnacle, Online Grades, Skipping School and More

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  • So... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Nipok Nek ( 87328 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @09:08AM (#5700669)
    So, the only way your parents wouldn't be able to check up on you would be if, say, the site gets Slashdotted? :)

    Nipok Nek
    • Re:So... (Score:4, Funny)

      by Ooblek ( 544753 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @10:21AM (#5701402)
      Or if he did his farking homework instead of slacking for a while, they might be lulled into complacency and not bother to check his grades for a while. Ever see Cool-Hand Luke? He used a similar concept to escape a second time (or was it the first time?) Of course, if he isn't doing his homework, he probably isn't up to date on his classic movies.
      • Re:So... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by 0x0d0a ( 568518 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @12:35PM (#5702677) Journal
        Or if he did his farking homework instead of slacking for a while, they might be lulled into complacency and not bother to check his grades for a while

        Or he could just do the damn homework, period.

        I mean, there are a lot of people paying out a lot of money so that he can get educated, and he's simply ignoring it. (Yes, you can learn without school and homework, however, I'm going to bet that Ishkibble's not running out and reading research papers in the time he's saving).

        Is there some homework you don't like? Sure. Is there some that won't teach you anything you don't know? Sure. But neither does it warrant completely ignoring it. The moment teens feel that they don't need to do something, they want to demonstrate their power ("I'm not a *kid* anymore") and ignore it.

        Simply ignoring things you don't like generally acts as a pretty large anchor in your professional life, guys. Take advantage of this time to learn how to deal with people in authority that make bad calls.
        • Re:So... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by knobmaker ( 523595 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @02:33PM (#5703881) Homepage Journal
          Or he could just do the damn homework, period.

          I agree that this would be the best solution, but it has the added disadvantage of pleasing the parents, which is anathema to most of the teenagers I've ever met. Me included, I'm afraid.

          Our local school system uses Pinnacle, and I think it's a fine idea. My 15 year old daughter, who always got straight As in the past, started slacking off in high school, which came as a great shock to us when the first report card with Fs came home. So, we grounded her until the grades came up-- no going anywhere, no phone, no net, no TV. The howls of anguish could probably be heard halfway 'round the world. She tried everything (except actually doing the work) to get us to change our minds, and it was a pretty painful couple of months. But the online grade system gave us a black-and-white meter for lifting the sanctions. "The day we go online and you have no grade lower than a C is the day you aren't grounded. Period."

          Eventually she gave up on bullying us into changing our minds, did the work, and raised the grades. Since she won't always have her doting parents to put the best spin on everything she does, I think it's a valuable lesson.

          That said, I think it's a very poor idea to use the Pinnacle system to micromanage the child-- making sure that she does her homework every night. It should be the child's responsibility to keep up with that stuff, to do what is necessary to achieve the desired result-- good grades. The child won't always have her parents to act as semi-sentient personal organizers-- she'd better get used to organizing herself, or it's a recipe for delayed disaster.

    • by pla ( 258480 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @10:34AM (#5701528) Journal
      I don't know if the original poster's parents would fall for it, but personally, I'd just run an identical looking site on my LAN, and add sbmc.org to the hosts file on their machine to point to your local web server (this could even work on a single machine, if necessary).

      Obviously, you'd have to tell the truth within a reasonable degree (or they'll certainly hit the roof when your daily status says straight-A's and you get all C's at the end of the quarter), but the "small stuff" like homework and class conduct, they never need to see.

      Hell, I never did homework myself, and for my "class conduct", I considered class a good time to sleep (why else would they possibly schedule them before noon, if they didn't mean for me to sleep there?). Complete waste of time, and the *only* classes it hurt my grade in consisted of those that actually graded the homework. What BS. I remember more than once getting into a classic circular argument about this... "Why do I need to do homework?" "Because you can't do well in this class without doing the homework" "But I've scored over 100% on every test you've given, and haven't done any of the homework so far" "Yes, but since the homework counts toward your grade, you only have a B average as a result". Repeat from step 1.
  • by abcxyz ( 142455 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @09:09AM (#5700674) Homepage
    I agree that the security of the system is lacking and probably wouldn't take a lot of effort to circumvent.

    However, as a parent, having access to my child's progress in school without continually bugging all 7 teachers is an excellent idea. It gives me an opportunity to see if he needs help without waiting 9 weeks. (Mind you, he has NO problem with asking for help when he needs it.)

    You indicate that your parents are putting you through hell daily to make sure you've done your homework -- is this an indication that you've had problems getting it done in the past? Maybe if the HW is finished before the fun is started, they might lighten up a bit in the future.

    -- Rick
    • by Captain_Stupendous ( 473242 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @09:18AM (#5700782) Homepage
      LOL. Typical parent's response. It's interesting to see the difference in age of Slashdot readers. Parents think this is a great idea, and kids think it's an invasion of privacy. As with all things, this is obviously not a black & white issue.
      • by Gefiltefish11 ( 611646 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @09:26AM (#5700850)

        Remember that kids (aka "minors;" those under the age of 18) have, with a few examples that are far afield of this issue, virtually no right to privacy where their parents are concerned.

        If a school system can post grades, homework, progress, etc. on the web and the parents want that, then this may be a good thing. However, it is important to recognize that families and parents have a right to privacy from outside sources and the "security" scheme for this system seems sorely lacking.
        • My parents treated me as a responsable adult from the time I was 16 or so (Privacy-wise too). Worked out pretty good for me, very badly for my younger brother (he wasn't as responsable as I, ended up getting into a lot of trouble).

      • by st0rmcold ( 614019 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @09:26AM (#5700855) Homepage

        I am in between this issue, I can see the parent side, they want the best for their children, which is completly normal, and moral.

        But on the other hand, you have the child, might be trying hard, might not, but with this, you're kinda taking all the trust away, by not believing them, so I feel for the kids that actually do their homework and have their parents watching over every turn, it's gonna bring feelings of resentment.

        The child's best interest is not always to be watched like a hawk, sometimes it's to let him/her make a few mistakes and realize the importance of such things. Without realizing this, you can force them until they are like 14-15 and if they never realized it on their own, they will revolt, and you will have completly lost the battle, even if you're original intent was to give the child reason.

        It's a form of over-protection, and it has had very detrimental effects in the past.

        Very touchy issue indeed.
        • An email with an weekly overview could be an compromise. If give the parents information on what their child is doing, but also doesn't have the "continues controle" effect.

          As for the homework and progress, the general outline should be available from the beginning of the year already. It just takes a little interest from the parents.

          Bugging 7 or more teachers should never be nessecary. Don't american classes have mentors or smt alike who should have a general idea off what's happening with the students i
        • by Darnit ( 75420 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @09:54AM (#5701093)
          It is in the child's best interest to be watched like a hawk watching a mouse. A parent should be able to step in a teach the child a lesson that could be very dangerous to learn through trial and error. A child should learn many things by trial and error but some things are just too dangerous to learn that way.

          School is one of those dangerous lessons. Without a proper education you can seriously mess up your future. Mess that up through trial and error and you may not get the chance again.

          Trust is a central issue in this. This is no different than a more thorough/convenient parent-teacher conference. Some people will abuse it and their kids will revolt. I would bet though it would just be the straw that broke the camel's back type of situation. Trust has to be built up. In this case, if the parents routinely check up on you and your story always is the same as what they get from the school, then the trust will be in your honesty. From there you need to build up the trust in your studies. Put a few hours a day into studying if you need to and they will start to trust your study habits.

          I think the super lax security at this school prompts the program to be shut down immediately! It needs proper password protection through secure protocols. The passwords need to change every semester or school year. The parents that don't take an active interest in their child's school work won't bother to find the new password and those students will quickly fall back into the old routine. The problem here is the uninformed parents that don't know crap about security and that the privacy of their child's information is open to almost every other person around. My college days showed me that social security numbers have nothing to do with security.

          FWIW, I'm 27, married, with a 15 month old son.
          • by pmz ( 462998 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @10:53AM (#5701734) Homepage
            It is in the child's best interest to be watched like a hawk watching a mouse.

            Sure it is. Now, not only does the child know that the parents don't believe them, but also that the parents don't believe in them.

            A parent should be able to step in a teach the child a lesson that could be very dangerous to learn through trial and error.

            And, thus, the child's experience might be limited to the parent's own experience.

            Without a proper education you can seriously mess up your future.

            School, for a long time, has never been the place to get that "proper educations." Face it, schools are day care for teenagers. Everything that is important to learn, people will learn it on their own. This has been true in my life and in the lives of people I talk to.

            ...if the parents routinely check up on you and your story always is the same as what they get from the school, then the trust will be in your honesty.

            Do you really think schools give out straight stories, too? Teachers sometimes have agendas, are too busy, or are too incompetent to give you the information you need. This is the same scenario as "total information awareness" and those lame "I don't have anything to hide" excuses. The school's perception of the truth isn't always correct or even needed.

            I'm 27

            Do you remember what it was like in school? I've attended public, private, and residential secondary schools. In the public case, the school was hopeless and just a teenager farm. The private school was good, but only because it was fairly small (but not too small) so that there was a healthy level of parent-teacher-child interaction. The residential school had no respect for privacy due to overzealous over-loud parents, and the experience was pretty miserable. With curfews, strict-same-sex dorms, and lights-out times, the students were only allowed to grow "academically" and only on the school's terms, which is a pretty narrow definition of growth.
          • Cause if you don't get into the special reading class in 4th grade timmy you won't get into that advanced math class and sixth and then they'll never let you into AP Chem your junior year!

            High school is fine and all, but to imply that you're giving up on your future if you screw around in these grades is just obsessive. I know plenty of kids that were the goofoffs in high school, some stoners, some clowns, some just uncaring. I compare where most of them are at to where some people that were anal about eve
        • Very touchy issue indeed.

          I (respectfully of course!) disagree - I don't think this is at all a touchy issue except from the point of view of the student. The age of student this seems to be talking about is well below age 18, which is when (generalising I know, but in most places) children become adults in the eyes of the law and no longer come under the "cover" of their parents. At this sort of age, the parents have every right to know their son/daughter(s) marks. Now, if this system was implemented at a
        • by mangr3n ( 588725 ) <mangr3n@teamdekade.com> on Thursday April 10, 2003 @10:39AM (#5701587)
          The parents aren't simply "wanting what's best for their children." As a parent the depth of my responsibility toward my child is greater. I have a responsibility to the society and to my child to assist him or her in becoming a useful,productive member of society. One ready and able to deal with life on life's terms.

          As such I am responsible for the example I set and the "propoganda" I push either through my actions or my words. Conversely, I am also responsible to evaluate the affects of my information and example on him or her. If there are problems, I need to adjust the message or example I'm sending to my child, so that he has the information he needs to make good decisions.

          I really do have a right to know. Because at 28 years my child will be a product that is in part a result of my actions.

          When my child turns 18, I will no longer have any right to information he's not willing to give; therefore all of his decisions from that point forward will be up to him and will be his responsibility. And if he's not prepared at that time, I will feel that I've not done right by him.

          I agree that a hawklike presence over my child's life would be detrimental. It is good to let a child make mistakes and learn from them. BUT IT'S THE PARENTS JOB TO KNOW WHEN TO STEER HIS CHILD AWAY FROM MISTAKES WHICH HAVE CONSEQUENCES THAT ARE MORE THAN HIS CHILD CAN HANDLE. That's my responsibility. My child's life must be an open book to me. Because until he's 18 the damage he causes to himself or other's are MY RESPONSIBILITY, NOT HIS.

          Now parent's on the otherhand aren't at all perfect. Thus some children really are oppressed, over-protected, and some even left to fend for themselves. Other times they're wrong and the feelings of oppression are actually guilt or shame for being held accountable.

          The misuse by a parent of this service, is truly a problem. But I would bet you that if a child feels the need to hide his grades from his parent, and the parent feels the need to be all-intrusive in his child's life, then the problems in that relationship aren't caused by a website like this. Getting rid of tools that show the parent how his child is doing, won't fix that relationship.

          So if you make the statement, "a parent may end up being intrusive, therefore don't do it", I would argue that it this statement is false. In cases where this is true, the parent is already being intrusive and the problems in that relationship are not caused by this service.

          PS The security is an issue.
      • by einer ( 459199 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @09:30AM (#5700885) Journal
        No, I've gotta say, this is pretty black and white. If you're not going to school to study and learn, then you're probably disrupting the study efforts of your fellow students. I'm a big fan of privacy. Your grades and homework status should be made available to parents (and in fact at my highschool, parents could call teachers individually if they were so inclined). They are an evaluation of your performance AND the performance of the teachers in a (usually) publicly funded program. What's wrong with accountability? What's wrong with parents knowing the status of their child's education? Would you prefer that the parents not have access to this information, or be forced to listen to the biased evidence presented by the student or teacher?

        I will save my rant on the public school system for another time, but in this particular case, I think they've found a great solution (I do admit that the security scheme is rather silly, but were it not for that, I would have no complaints).

        By the way, I'm not a parent. :) I think it's a great idea because it fixes something I hate about public schools. They seem to have quite a knack for allowing the dumb disruptive students to 'never get left behind,' and this happens at the expense of those students who recognize free education as a wonderful opportunity.

        No ones 'rights' are being violated here. The spirit of this idea is great, the implementation may need some work.
    • My mother was that way. OFten I'd get asigned a homework project that had a good amount of time in which to do it. For various reasons, I don't always want to finish something like that immediatly. However she is the kind of person that always does and expects the same of me. We were able to come to terms on this sort of thing, but some parents are not.

    • Maybe if the HW is finished before the fun is started, they might lighten up a bit in the future.

      Or maybe he'll just do what all kids that get treated like liars do - finish the HW, then go do drugs until they come home after the next school day.
  • So you being expected to do what you're supposed to is a "living hell"? The real world is gonna eat you alive. :)
  • "every night my parents go on and check to see if i have any homework and won't let me do anything till it's done"

    You'll reap the rewards for your parents vigilence.

    Hhahahahahahaha who am I trying to fool...unlucky :)
  • by cybermace5 ( 446439 ) <g.ryan@macetech.com> on Thursday April 10, 2003 @09:11AM (#5700703) Homepage Journal
    We'll take care of that little problem for you.

    However, you should be doing all your homework without being forced! School is already too easy, and if you skip any of it you'll be the only one at McDonald's who can't make change! You should be asking your teachers for extra homework!
    • School is already too easy, and if you skip any of it you'll be the only one at McDonald's who can't make change!

      This wouldn't have anything to do with your sig, would it?
    • School is already too easy, and if you skip any of it you'll be the only one at McDonald's who can't make change!

      Are you seriously trying to suggest that people at McDonalds can make change?
  • The system does need better security (like issuing parents a login and password). However, there's pretty much nothing wrong with the idea. Do your homework, punk.
  • Yes and no (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JanneM ( 7445 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @09:12AM (#5700720) Homepage
    Well, the authentication mechanism does seem unsecure - that is something the school needs to work on, or they're just setting themselves up for a lawsuit if it's used in an inappropriate way.

    But... You complain that your parents find out what happens to you at school? That your legal guardians can find out if you try to deceive them and not do schoolwork? Hear - methinks it's the worlds smallest violin playing the worlds saddest song...

    How about actually attending school and doing the homework?

  • by rf0 ( 159958 ) <rghf@fsck.me.uk> on Thursday April 10, 2003 @09:13AM (#5700733) Homepage
    Wether you believe it or not your parents are doing only because they care. You might not think it now but you will look back at some point and realise they are doing what they think is best for you.

    As for the privacy issues ok prehaps its not so great but at least they are trying even though a custom username/password combination might be better

  • by jvbunte ( 177128 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @09:14AM (#5700739) Journal
    Crack it once and turn them in on a FERPA violation.... (FERPA == Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, http://www.ed.gov/offices/OM/fpco/ferpa/)

    I work in a Community College and everything we do with student online statistics and information has to follow FERPA security guidelines.
    • Crack it once and try to turn anyone in for anything without getting busted yourself as a cracker.

      Community colleges generally work with students above the age of 18 and therefore have different standards to which they must work. Besides, FERPA only applies to schools that receive federal money from certain Dept. of Education programs. Do most high schools receive such money?

  • Two issues (Score:5, Insightful)

    by El Volio ( 40489 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @09:14AM (#5700746) Homepage

    To the poster: your parents sound like they're doing their job. Be glad they're interested in your achievement. If all parents felt the same way, our society would be in a wholly different situation.

    That said, the login process probably does need to be changed, but doing that might end up defeating the purpose: if they sent a login via snail mail, kids are likely to intercept it. Then again, if the whole area knows about it, parents would get suspicious about why they haven't received theirs. It's a simple problem to fix, though, and doesn't change the fact that the underlying program keeping parents informed is a great idea.

  • already been done (Score:3, Informative)

    by odyrithm ( 461343 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @09:15AM (#5700748)
    ccm [ccmsoftware.com] have done this for years with ePortal.
  • Security/Privacy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by binaryDigit ( 557647 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @09:15AM (#5700749)
    Well if someone has that much of your SSN, you probably have bigger security/privacy issues than someone simply looking up your grades. Though in general the idea of using ones SSN (or parts thereof) just doesn't leave you with a warm fuzzy.

    As to your parents, well it's unfortunate that they feel compelled to use a tool like this in the way that they do. However, the bigger question is WHY they feel compelled to have to use it. It may be the "wow, we can do this" factor, which often times wears off. It could be that you are flakey and put them in a position to think that they HAVE to do this in order to make sure you are getting your homework done. I don't know which. But in any case, have you tried simply talking to them about the whole issue? Parents CAN be reasonable when talked to in an adult fashion (i.e. talk to them like and adult and they're more likely to treat you like one).
    • Let's just hope this applet isn't sending the SSN back in cleartext, otherwise everyone who uses this system will have security or privacy issues at some point.
    • Though in general the idea of using ones SSN (or parts thereof) just doesn't leave you with a warm fuzzy.

      Better to require the first part of your SSN than the last, though. The first 3 digits are assigned to a geographical place; either the place of your birth or where you first apply for a SSN, I don't recall which. The next 2 are something to do with birthdate: at the very least, odd year births have an odd here, evens have an even.

      The last 4, though, are "random," or at least not explicitly derived
    • So what is, Ishkibble [slashdot.org]'s name and SSN then?
      He can have hundreds of nerds checking up on him.
      And if he doesn't do his homework, Trogdor is going to [homestarrunner.com] burninate [mp3s.com] him.

      The scary thing is that some good social engineering versus the school is bound to turn up some SSN's if you just have the name of a student.

      Will this make the local paper?
      Will they call Slashdot a "site for hackers"?
  • Be glad... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by scorp1us ( 235526 )
    Some schools require that the parents sign all homework that gets turned in!

    This way, you can still do an inferior job. ;-)

    What's next: radio controlled dog collars that shock you until your homework is done, or if you cut class.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 10, 2003 @09:16AM (#5700757)

    I a Customer who uses this *thing*. It has a Win32 "thick client" that back-ends into a Sybase SQL Anywhere database, and this Java client to allow external users to access the database. The dumb thing uses its own security database, so now when we add new teachers to the district-wide LDAP single-sign-on system, we also have to go manually add them to the "Pinnacle" database.

    The company that installed it into my Customer site encouraged teachers to use *hard* to guess passwords like their first names. Further, anybody with an ODBC driver for Sybase SQL Anywhere can just "connect" to the back-end database and "go at it". Couple this with the *rancid* filesystem permissions that the installer put on it ("Oh-- why is is a problem that any user can write to the directory where the "thick client" EXE is installed... Ho, hum."), and you've got a recipe for disaster...

    Oh, to be young again...

    • What you describe is typical of many applications intended for public school education. Software is generally contracted out to the lowest bidder, and we all know the quality at the bottom of that barrel.

      For instance, we have this brand-spanking new on-line curriculum (used to dictate curriculum to teachers, a subject I won't get started on now). Only problem is, the company that wrote it has had to cut back on its staff, so we've lost our district liaison. Which means, we can no longer modify the progr
    • I have also had quite a bit of exposure to this and related software. When I was in high school, I believe they were using the similar software for keeping grades and were debating whether to post them online or not. Especially since graduating, I have not kept up with what has been going on, but grading software like this has been a huge pain for the school district. There was a point they spent nearly half a million dollars a year for several years in a row to either replace or patch faulty grade keepi

    • Teacher: Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?
      Simone: Um, he's sick. My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend knows this kid who wrote this script which plugs into this database that links to this client which says that Ferris passed out at 31 Flavors last night. I guess it's pretty serious.
      Teacher: Thank you Simone.
  • Sorry, Buddy, but this a perfectly justified use of private data- you parenst should know anyway.

    And if you really think it's that insecure - prove it
  • by eugene ts wong ( 231154 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @09:17AM (#5700767) Homepage Journal
    The Matrin County School Board has a new way of post a student's grades online for a parent to check...This has been making my life a living hell for the past 2 months, every night my parents go on and check to see if i have any homework and won't let me do anything till it's done
    Son, this is your father. We've gone over your Engish so many times, & here you are still saying, "...has a new way of post a student's grades...". "post"? Also, you didn't finish your last sentence with a period. Come, come, now. I think we need more homework. You do want to win that spelling bee, don't you?

    Oh, by the way son, until today, I didn't know that you posted on /. as well. It's good to see you here. Maybe we could troll together, as father & son? What do you think?
  • Cracking (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Johnny Mnemonic ( 176043 ) <mdinsmore@@@gmail...com> on Thursday April 10, 2003 @09:17AM (#5700769) Homepage Journal

    This thing is crying out to be hacked.

    True story: when I was in High School, an automated phone service was instigated, in which if you skipped class a computer would automatically call home and inform on you. Well, I had better things to do than go to class Every Single Day, and I sure didn't want to wait around in the evening just to be the one that picked up the phone.

    So, once I got the call, I taped it; then, using an acquired phone list of the students, randomly, and at a late hour, called and played this message back. Parents were furious that the school was calling them so late; students were pissed that they were getting calls when they had attended; the credibility of the system was shot to shit. So whenever someone actually skipped, they would just report that it must've been the Mad Phone Prankster and that the call wasn't legitimate. A $30K computer system shut down with $1 worth of Memorex.

    Yeah Dawgs! Garfield Class of '88.
    • Re:Cracking (Score:4, Interesting)

      by teamhasnoi ( 554944 ) <teamhasnoiNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Thursday April 10, 2003 @09:38AM (#5700957) Journal
      Why didn't they personalize it in some way so smart-ass kids like you ;) couldn't mess with it? Even a Steven Hawking voice inserted like voice mail would have made it more difficult.

      "We regret to inform you that your" *DAUGHTER**CINDY MCGILLICUTTY* "has been shown to be truant on" *TODAY* "Please call the school office for more information. This system is shut down after 7pm every evening. Thank you."

      I'm sure you could have made Apple II SAM say something approaching it, but the tedious nature of custom calls would have stopped you in your tracks. Or are you saying you have too much time on your hands?

      In that case, Mister, I want a seven page report on what the Founding Fathers would have thought of this war...

    • Your solution rocks. When I was a young chap in school though, I had another method to skip class. You know those forms they gave you the first day of school, where your parents put their phone number and stuff like that? I'd just hand it to my parents and give them a pencil (not pen) to fill it in. Once they put in their phone number I'd take it to my room and erase it, then put the number for my BBS line in. Anytime there was a discipline problem contacting my parents by phone was never an option, an
  • a few points (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nuggz ( 69912 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @09:17AM (#5700770) Homepage
    1. You should show up to school, it is your parents responsibility to ensure you do.
    2. You should do your homework, again your parents should make sure you do.
    3. You should have some privacy, and your parents should let you have it. However if you aren't trustworthy enough to do your homework and go to school, you deserve what you get.
    4. The risk of use of this system by unauthorized persons is unacceptable.

    This is an arguement of privacy vs responsible supervision, like having the "internet computer" facing back into the room to watch what your kids are doing.

    I'd be willing ot bet that if you always show up for school, and always do your homework (or at least get near perfect grades). Your parents won't bother checking up on you.

    Otherwise wait till you're 18, then bitch out any school that releases personal information without your consent.
  • So you have to do your homework. Big, fat, hairy deal.

    The real world is going to eat you alive, you little baby. If you don't do your homework, you can't go out with your friends. If you don't do your work in the real world, you don't have a job (unless you are management) and thus don't get to eat.

  • by tommyServ0 ( 266153 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @09:17AM (#5700774) Homepage Journal
    My wife (a High School math teacher) will tell you that her best students usually have parents who are involved with their children's schoolwork. This will make it easier for parents and teachers to help encourage their kids to learn.

    Something like this would make both the teacher's and parent's job much easier. The teacher doesn't have to arrange as many meetings with parents (only the parents of really problem kids) and the parent doesn't need to rely on the student for accurate information about their conduct, homework, and grades. I was in High School, too.

    I hope people realize that parents that make sure their kids work hard in high school are all too rare these days, and it's a blessing to have them.
    Just ask the students in my wife's Geometry class.
  • ssn? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rczyzewski ( 585306 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @09:18AM (#5700776)
    So all you need is part of a social security number and a name to see what others are doing? I can see coaches doing this to check up on their student-athletes or siblings to rat each other out. Can't wait until someone hacks that system.
    Whiney sibling: "Mom, Billy has homework."
    Billy: "No I don't, liar!"
    Whiney sibling: "Oh yeah, that's not what the webpage says!"
  • HomeWork Sucks (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Grrreat ( 584733 )
    Its really lame that the 8 hours you spend in school isn't enough time. If you have to bring school home with you then someone isn't teaching well. There should be ample to time during school hours for schoolwork to get done if the students wants, instead of being forced home with it. Its basicly training everyone to be ok with bring work home for the rest of their lives and thats not cool and most people don't get paid enough for that.
    • No, homework is about teaching you self-discipline, so that you don't become a lazy sloth the rest of your life. Plus, you learn stuff at the same time, which is cool.
    • Re:HomeWork Sucks (Score:5, Interesting)

      by sebmol ( 217013 ) <{ed.lombes} {ta} {lombes}> on Thursday April 10, 2003 @09:29AM (#5700881) Homepage

      RRRRRight. The point of homework is to make sure that you understand the material. Now, granted, there are teachers who will excessive/nonsensical/boring homework which will achieve the exact opposite. But for some of my classes, I'm glad I have some homework so I got something to test on before the real test. This might become more of an issue in college though where there is considerably less time and opportunity to cover everything in class.

      As to the not getting paid thing, if a teacher puts efforts into giving good homework, he or she will probably also assign grades to how well you did on it. Those grades are what you get paid with in school.

    • Back in my day, we started at 7:30, and were done by 2. That's 6.5 hours, and that included at least 45 minutes for lunch. IIRC there were 6 50 minute periods - 5 hours of instructional time per day. Even including waking up, walking to the bus, and transport back home, it wasn't 8 hours.
    • being forced home with it

      No one is forcing you, the grade will reflect your effort.

      Its [basically] training everyone to be [o.k.] with bring work home for the rest of their lives and thats not cool and most people don't get paid enough for that.

      Again, during the "school years" your are working on learning to better yourself. You cannot learn enough with just having someone lecture to you, you need to do the hands-on stuff yourself. Doing homework at home will help you prepare for college and even w
  • What will be interesting to see is if grades are better becuse of the scrutiny your parents may put you under.

    We always bang on that greater transparency of Government on Companies will force them to behave better.. I guess it also applies to individuals/smaller groups. If it improves grades great...the security of this is appaling though and perhaps has some legal/privacy implications for the education institutions that use it - in the UK the Data Protection Act requires compaies to secure their data on i
  • Living hell? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by extra88 ( 1003 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @09:20AM (#5700803)
    You actually have to do your homework? OMG, more violations of the Geneva Conventions!

    The security part needs improving but overall this sounds like a good idea. Homework assignments are all recorded in one place so everyone knows what was assigned, no disagreements or confusion not just between parents & students but also students & teachers. Of course parents should talk to their children about school and their homework but this site shouldn't serve as a substitute but rather a starting point, one which eliminates the dreary recitation of what homework was assigned.
  • by sebmol ( 217013 ) <{ed.lombes} {ta} {lombes}> on Thursday April 10, 2003 @09:21AM (#5700805) Homepage

    No computer system should *ever* use SSN's as the user name or password. The ubiquitous presence and use of SSN's for such purposes are one of the main reasons identity theft is going rampant these days.

    Instead, they should let every parent create their own pair of user name and password that can't directly be linked back to either student or parent (well, unless they chose to use their real names, of course). That's, for example, how Washington Mutual is handling their online banking service.

    On a slightly unrelated note, how is this supposed to work in school districts that by law have to give access to illegal immigrants who by their very nature have no SSN? There are quite a few places, namely in California, where the law says that schools can't ask for citizenship or immigration status and have to accept children regardless of that.

  • This reminds me of the joy I feel every time my daughter tells me that the drug-sniffing dogs were cruising the hallways at school. I certainly would not have liked that type of supervision during my HS days, but for my kid, it gives me a strange warm and fuzzy. Double standard? Hell yeah!
  • by TerryAtWork ( 598364 ) <research@aceretail.com> on Thursday April 10, 2003 @09:23AM (#5700827)
    It sucks more to be a kid everyday. (Except for the powerful cheap computers)

    When *I* was a kid I was convinced my mother could hear the announcements made over the intercom everyday. Now it's closer to true than ever!

  • Many dont, and in time those children will live to regret it.

    Just be thankfull your parents care enough to be involved.. And do the same for yours when the time comes.
  • It must really suck having parents that give enough of a shit about you to check up on your schoolwork.

    Don't you wish your parents didn't give a damn, so you could goof off, never complete your homework, fail tests, fail classes, and end up being a worthless leech on society?

    What do they know, anyway? It's not like they've been through all this.
  • by wrero ( 314883 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @09:27AM (#5700865)
    Those parents who are conscientious or care enough about their children and their performance in school, that is, those that will use this site, are probably not the parents who SHOULD be using this site.

    There are obvious exceptions, but it seems to me that the majority [not all] of kids who have real problems in school are the children of uninvolved parents to begin with.

    Sure, there will be those involved parents, who think "B" stands for "Bad" who will be all over this site and love it; they can really pressure their kid to SUCCEED! These are the same parents that probably put up "motivational" posters in their kid's room.

    I thought we have established, in general, that "micro-management" in the ADULT world is a bad thing? Are kids really going to learn to be responsible if someone is looking over their shoulder every day? Or, are the periodic student-reviews (report cards) and periodic management meetings (parent-teacher meetings) a better way to allow the student to learn responsibility for themselves...

    This of course is all my opinion.

    It would be my contention that the rights to privacy outweigh the substantive long term benefits from such a system - because in the end, I'm not seeing any REAL benefit.

  • Feedback is a great tool to motivate people, and I now mean especially the positive feedback. The system described above seems nice, but the teachers should use it (also) for good deeds. Try to give every day as many positive as negative feedbacks and You will be amazed of the effect !
    And of course the security stinks. Now the neighbor could see how our kids are doing. That's untolerable !
  • vi /etc/hosts stupid.school.board.edu
    Not sure how to make it work on windows though
  • if there is any input, then that system is no good. it would be easy to get the source, see what is really collecting the data (likely just using POST to a script) - then you can bypass the applet and just brute force your way through the number combinations (since it is the first set and not the last, you know that it is much more likely to start with certain numbers) and then last names (there is even probably a public resource with all of the student names).
    This is especially easy if the server isn't loo
  • Illegal use of SSN (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @09:32AM (#5700896)
    This is just another instance where lazy adminstrators and programmers use the SSN as a unique identifier. There's nothing inherent about your U.S. SSN that requires it be linked to your grades. I fight this battle all the time with health care providers and other places where you need an 'account number'. It's easy for them - you never forget it, and its guaranteed to be unique. I always force them to generate a random 9 digit number instead. Why link my medical records to my tax accounts?
  • by Capt_Troy ( 60831 ) <tfandango@@@yahoo...com> on Thursday April 10, 2003 @09:34AM (#5700921) Homepage Journal
    yea yea yea, there's a lot of "stupid kid, do your homework, love your parents" stuff going around here. and I totally agree...

    BUT. This is a serious security concern. In todays world, there is no excuse for lazy password policy and non-encrypted personal informaion flowing over the web. This Pinnicle company needs to get it's shit together because 1 simple hack (which will probably happen now that it's been on /.) and that company can roll over and die.
  • If you are 18 years old you can run for school board. All the other 18 year olds you know can vote for you. Once you are on the school board you can get rid of this system. Isn't it nice how our government works? In the town and county levels there isn't the corruption that exists up top. You can fix things there.
  • WTF? (Score:3, Funny)

    by paiute ( 550198 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @09:38AM (#5700953)
    What kind of grades are these?

    "i 0WNz0r All j00R 9R4De5, j00 w4nK1N9 PiMPL3 P3+r1e diShES!!!3LE+3 H@X0R "

    I'm writing a stern note to the principal.

  • by cnelzie ( 451984 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @09:38AM (#5700955) Homepage

    I had the excellent opportunity to attend a private boarding school for my sophomore year of high school. It was quite frankly the best school and time that I had had at school.

    Sure, just like in public school, I fell to the bottom of the social structure, but I excelled academically while attending that school. I know that if I had the opportunity to have completed my high school education, I would be much farther ahead in life then I am now.

    However, I am digressing...

    While at that school, the faculty had full control over the students lives, only the students that excelled in their studies had privelages above the students that didn't excel.

    For instance, everyday, we were given roughly two hours after class, prior to dinner of "free-time" where we could go where we wanted to go and do what we wanted to do.

    In the evening, prior to hitting the sack, we had mandatory study time. Unless you were excelling in your studies, you were to stay in your own room and study. If you were excelling, then you had the freedom to study where you wished or do whatever other activity that you wished.

    So, in my case, straight after classes, I focused on tearing through my homework. After that, I took the evening free-time to keep up with a few television shows, shoot pool with other excelling students, attend evening on campus bonfires and slurry of other activities that simply weren't available durring the after classes free-time.

    If my parents had been as forceful on me, as that school was, I would have likely developed a much better study habit then I currently have and would have continued to excel in life.

    As it stands, I am doing okay, but I really could be doing better.
    • If my parents had been as forceful on me, as that school was, I would have likely developed a much better study habit then I currently have and would have continued to excel in life.

      In the Real World(tm), I've found that my hard-won "study habits", which were developed at length in many weekend classes that my parents enrolled me in, are more or less completely useless. Unless you're an assembly-line worker, the structure of school bears little resemblence to what you'll be doing professionally.

      Most of

  • You'll never (in the reasonable future) see this in my town. Partly for budget reasons, partly for training, partly for lack of vision, but mostly just because the schools are trying to barely cope with just about everything else that goes wrong day to day.

    We're wired *fairly* well, there seems to be at least 1 computer in every classroom, and several labs containing 10-20 full workstations. But from what I've seen (and I've gone to town level I.T. meetings) the "technical staff" (and make big emphatic a
  • Software such as this (and Apple's more elaborate PowerSchool [apple.com] ) is at least getting parents more involved in school and their child's schoolwork, which is A Good Thing. As with anything else, the primary problem here is user education, i.e., the school administrators using other things besides SSNs to validate users.

    But I'm glad to see more software like this developed for schools: with both parents usually working full-time, it makes it easier for them to get an idea of how their child is doing, and at l
  • by pongo000 ( 97357 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @09:44AM (#5701008)
    I am a high-school teacher, and our district is moving in this direction. The electronic gradebook is already in place, and next year parents will be able to see their child's alleged progress at any point during the school year.

    Why "alleged"? Because my gradebook, like many teachers' gradebooks, is a work in progress. I might be behind in my grading, so the grade displayed might not be accurate. I might decide to drop a grade, but just haven't done so yet. There are a thousand and one things that need to be adjusted that parents simply can't see.

    I intend to fight this by withholding the entry of any grades until the final week of the grading period. This way, parents (and teachers) who check on students' grades will find a 0 for the grade. They'll need to talk to me to find out the student's progress. During that discussion, we can talk about other things that might be affecting the student's grade that wouldn't show up in a simple on-line gradesheet (things like attitude, behavior, motivation, etc.).

    I would urge the poster of this story to encourage their teachers (the understanding ones) to do the same.
    • by tmortn ( 630092 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @10:40AM (#5701594) Homepage
      I couldn't disagree with your seintiments more. Seems to me you can place that as a disclaimer to your grade book and then leave an open invitation to discuss a childs progress with parents as well.

      Just like with illness, early detection of a problem at school is the best and sometimes only way to solve the problem. By finding the time to keep grades reasonbaly up to date where parents can easily have access to them can give you a valuable ally in your efforts to reach struggling children.

      Complain about the fact you probably have to many students in each class to realisticly keep an up to date grades book but please god don't say you would preffer not to post grades for parental review till the last week, what good does a poor mark do at that point ? The race is over, options are limited. You have to keep some running tally of grades anyway so why not take an hour at the end of each week and keep the online values consistent with your 'work in progress'?

      Granted conference time is more valuable but is it a bad thing to give parents one more way to stay abreast of their childrens progress ?
  • I live in Martin County, FL. Let me tell you; This system is a great tool for the simple reason that most people's (and kid's) view of education isnt quite the same as elsewhere in the country. The value placed on quality public education is just not sufficient. This new system provides an easy way parents can proactivaly keep their kids on track with minimal effort. Thanks to great beaches and a great climate its no real suprise that all the kids in Taco bell cant count change for poop.

    The entire sta
  • There are some other really cool school management applications like this one [schooltool.com]. If you work in K-12 education, I think you should take a look!
  • This system is just begging to be abused. Lets say a student applys for a part-time job at a local fast food emporioum. The employer has your name, has your SSN, knows where you go to school.. whats to stop them from logging in to check your grades and attendance record? Nothing, it sounds like.

  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @09:56AM (#5701109)
    This has been making my life a living hell for the past 2 months, every night my parents go on and check to see if i have any homework and won't let me do anything till it's done

    No offense to anyone, but how is Slashdot supposed to have credibility on "adult" issues like security, intellectual property, and technology when a story has some kid whining about his parents not letting him out to play until his homework is done?

    I think it's pretty pathetic and this kid is pretty pathetic, too. When I was kid before computers, you didn't get to play outside until your homework was done, either. Mom and dad checked the assignments, grades, etc frequently to make sure you weren't fucking up.

    If grades came back low at the end of the semester for anything but gym, freedoms were further curtailed until they went back up. If they went up and stayed up, greater freedoms were granted.

    I'm glad they did this because -- *gasp* -- that's a lot how the real world works, except that nobody pays as much attention along the way, it all comes down to the the final exam.
  • by eth1 ( 94901 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @10:40AM (#5701597)
    1) Set up linux firewall
    2) use iptables to redirect web traffic from gradegestapo.com to hotxxxpreteensex.com
  • Bad Webmaster! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by romco ( 61131 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:52PM (#5703479) Homepage
    "With a logon system as simple as this, one has to question the security and privacy of the students."

    Doug and I designed that site back in 2000. There is even a comment showing that at the bottom of page source.

    Seems that Patrick Lyons forgot to "clean" the html up before taking credit for designing it. (he is listed at bottom of all the webpages plus at his website.)

    It was secure in 2000... :-)

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling