Goodbye StarPortal: Montclair is Moving Grades Skyward

BY  |  Wednesday, Jul 31, 2013 8:00am  |  COMMENTS (14)

SkywardAs the new school year approaches, students won’t be the only ones showing off their new upgrades. The Montclair School district is mobilizing this summer to bring students and families a new and more comprehensive student data system called Skyward in which they will not only access grades online, but manage assignments, view sports schedules, change emergency contact information, and much more.

Skyward Family Access will be fully operational in September and will replace StarPortal. Students and their parents can continue to track their grades and attendance with Skyward, but its additional features will provide more convenience. The one I’m most excited about? When an assignment or test appears in the grade log and a grade has not yet been entered, a zero will not automatically be factored into the marking period average. (That will save me a lot of stress!) In addition, Skyward has a section in which students can view their current, past and missed assignments that teachers will keep updated daily, acting as a virtual assignment pad. A calendar will also show upcoming tests and major assignment due dates. To aid disorganized families in keeping track of significant writing assignments and projects, a portfolio feature enables users to save digital files of their work in their account for future use.

For athletes, Skyward will provide other benefits. Updated game and practice schedules will be available without having to make the separate online check to HighSchoolSports.net. Instead of waiting for a text or e-mail from a coach, athletes can check for cancellations on their own.

Continuing in the spirit of the one-stop-shop, Skyward users also have access to their bus schedules, locker combos, and updated community service log. Standardized state test scores like the HSPA will eventually be available, but current scores will not show up immediately, as data is still being transferred over from StarPortal.

Skyward should also please parents with several helpful features. For one, parents and caregivers with an authorized access code can update or change personal contact and emergency information just with the click of a mouse. Additionally, teacher conferences can be scheduled online with a display of available time slots. Parents can reserve these time slots without making a call to request a meeting.

Although the necessary back-to-school and emergency forms will be mailed out this year, in addition to being available online, hard copies of the forms will be eliminated in future years and will be exclusively available online, saving the district a huge postage expense.

Read more about Skyward on the district’s website.

Article originally ran on The Bull at Montclair High.

14 Comments

  1. POSTED BY idratherbeat63  |  July 31, 2013 @ 8:34 am

    It sounds like a good system. Hopefully it can assist teachers and parents in their communications. It will be important that it is implemented keeping in mind student and teacher privacy and confidentiality concerns.

  2. POSTED BY walleroo  |  July 31, 2013 @ 8:50 am

    StarPortal was due for an upgrade. However, given that this is happening in the Montclair school district, it will probably suck. (Sorry, I have worked hard to earn my right to be cynical on this score.)

    What’s really funny: athletes will be able to get practice info. That’s just hilarious, a real corker.

  3. POSTED BY crankinmontclair  |  July 31, 2013 @ 9:02 am

    Uh oh….teachers (and parents) took years to figure out starportal. Now we are back to square one with another, different, more complex system? And shouldn’t I have heard about this from the district, not from the media? Indication of how slow the new info will get out to parents, methinks!

  4. POSTED BY alic314  |  July 31, 2013 @ 9:33 am

    @crankinmontclair – I’ve been hearing about this from other parents in town for awhile, mainly that they couldn’t wait to see it implemented, and that the previous system wasn’t all that helpful or useful.

  5. POSTED BY Georgette Gilmore  |  July 31, 2013 @ 9:35 am

    The district mentioned the new system when it posted the information for the Parent Leadership Academy workshops: http://ow.ly/nuKO0

  6. POSTED BY mtcliving  |  July 31, 2013 @ 11:48 am

    Is this just for the high school or for middle and elementary as well?

  7. POSTED BY Georgette Gilmore  |  July 31, 2013 @ 11:51 am

    It’s for the entire district. I just added link for more information which was just posted on district’s website.

  8. POSTED BY crankinmontclair  |  July 31, 2013 @ 1:12 pm

    Thanks, Georgette. And @alic314 – starportal was pretty straightforward for parents, in my opinion. Not sure why parents found it difficult. Only problem was teachers were sometimes slow in entering info. If Skyward can make sure that happens more promptly, then it will be great. I just fear the learning curve will be a good excuse for it to be even slower…..Hope I am wrong!

  9. POSTED BY kay  |  July 31, 2013 @ 2:47 pm

    Hip, hip Hooray! Starportal was better than nothing, but besides looking at the crazy class schedule layout and last year’s transcripts… I had a devil of a time getting it to show me anything useful other than what assignments were already missed!! How am I supposed to know whether my boy turned in the so-and-so project or lab that is (was) due on a Friday… when the entry isn’t input until the following week and it’s already too late? Maybe it’s just inconsistency between teachers’ usage, but the date shown on the assignments page was never clear to me – is that the due date, or the date the teacher happened to input the entry?!?! It would also be nice to know how each item is weighted – and no I don’t recall this from any syllabus – why are homework items worth 5 points in some classes, and 100 points in others?

    Now that I’m thinking about it, why are some homework assignments graded, i.e., “8.5 of 10″, when some are just “done/not-done”?

    And what do you do when the teacher is consistently behind in entering the tests and assignments? If she stacks up 2 weeks of stuff and inputs it all just before the close of the marking period, how am I supposed to work with *that*??

    (Yes, I know it’s up to my kid to be more organized and blah blah blah, but sometimes there’s only so much you can do with a 14 year old boy. Hopefully I can convince him to do better this year on the organizational front.)

    Anyway I look forward to trying out Skyward; hoping it will have better functionality… that teachers will use it in a consistent manner… and *really* hope that I will be able to check it from my work PC – you know, on my lunch hour! – Starportal was inoperable at the office for some reason and it was quite annoying.

    p.s Nice work Lauren!!

  10. POSTED BY PAZ  |  July 31, 2013 @ 10:57 pm

    Skyward is used by the GR school system but I believe just for access to grades.

  11. POSTED BY stu  |  August 01, 2013 @ 1:00 pm

    I heard that Skyward is used at many charter schools as well. We must remove it immediately.

  12. POSTED BY crankinmontclair  |  August 09, 2013 @ 4:08 pm

    I hate to be right about this, but….Skyward is a MESS. First, I never received the email about it and had to request. About a week later I also got a printed letter. Neither email or letter had my log in or password. Finally tracked those down…But the REQUIRED forms are not all on there. So I am required to fill out forms, I supposedly have the option to do it online, but really I don’t. It was easier to just get the packet and do it with a pen.

  13. POSTED BY arch  |  August 14, 2013 @ 3:54 pm

    I agree that Skyward is a mess. I got (2) emails from the the Bd of Ed, (1) sort of addressed to me (it had my name wrong) and (1) addressed to my ex, who’s name was also wrong btw.(oops)
    At no point in the email did it mention that skyward was replacing star portal (which I think would have been helpful) or information on who to contact if you have questions. I spent 2 hours trying to find help. When I called the Bd of Ed they told me to call my kid’s school, when I called the school they told me to check the website. Ugh!
    Here is a copy of the entire email I got: “You have been given an account to Skyward Family Access. Your Login ID is: wrong name
    Click on the following link to obtain a password to access this system.”

    FYI, contact Anthony Keys at the Bd of Ed with questions/concerns

  14. POSTED BY Georgette Gilmore  |  August 14, 2013 @ 4:04 pm

    The communication has been bad. I too had problems getting username and password. However, once I was able to log in, I liked it. I was able to update my daughters’ information very easily. Hopefully once it’s in use during the school year, things will run smoothly.

Leave a Reply

Baristanet Comment Policy:

Baristanet has specific guidelines for commenting. To avoid having your comment deleted -- or your commenting privileges revoked -- read this before you comment. Violators will be banned from commenting.

Report a comment that violates the guidelines to comments@baristanet.com. For trouble with registration or commenting, write to comments@baristanet.com.

Commenters on Baristanet.com are responsible for all legal consequences arising from their comments, including libel, infringement of copyright or actions that threaten a third party. By submitting a comment, you agree to indemnify Baristanet LLC, its partners and employees from any legal action arising from your comments.

In order to comment on the new system, you need to register a new Baristanet account. To get your own avatar next to your comments, sign up at Gravatar.com

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Follow, Friend, Subscribe