Hey, MCPS! It’s time to digitize report cards

By Dana Herrnstadt

Spanish class was cut short. You forgot where your homeroom was, so you lapped the school a few times until you found a distant acquaintance to follow. Now, you’re sitting in an unfamiliar classroom, surrounded by people whose last names are similar to yours. It’s that time of the year again: report card day.

Paper report cards have become a symbol of institutionalized schools, and they’ve even become something of a tradition. Although report cards are nice refrigerator accessories, their distribution has many overlooked consequences. To save paper and preserve class-time, MCPS should digitize report cards.

Plain ol’ paper accounts for over 40 percent of trash in any given landfill, according to a report by the County of Hawaii Department of Environmental Management. That being said, paper consumption has decreased in recent years and over 117 American paper mills have closed since 2000 due to less demand, a 2016 Denver Post article reported. Even at Whitman, most classes use environmentally friendly technology like Chromebooks and Promethean boards; we’ve progressed far beyond wasteful worksheets. Why not implement the same green policies for report cards too?

The adjusted schedule that homeroom necessitates also interrupts other classes and takes away class time. Ironically, report card distribution actually hinders students from learning. The altered schedule only creates confusion and forces students to forgo valuable class-time to receive a tiny slip of paper with the same information that can already be found online.

In fact, about 70 percent of students don’t even show their report cards to their parents, according to an informal Black & White survey of 30 students across all grade levels. Whether they deliberately hide their reports, “misplace” them or just point-blank forget, many parents never see the end result of a long marking period. But if we go digital, lost report cards will become a thing of the past. Parents will know exactly where to find their child’s grades, and students won’t have the responsibility of presenting their report cards.

And the final product isn’t even necessary anymore. Students and parents can check grades on portal throughout the quarter, so an end report is really just a formality. At this point, it’s more effective and efficient to digitize report cards than to distribute them in person.

Admittedly, some MCPS students may not have the technological resources to view a digital report card. But for these students, the solution is simple: they can simply request a printed copy. It’s a quick fix and allows the vast majority of families to receive report cards without any further hassle.

Paper report cards are no longer necessary in today’s digital age. While it’s sad that the paper industry is shrinking (I love Dunder Mifflin as much as the next person), the environmental and practical benefits of going digital far outweigh the costs. It’s 2019. Let’s save some trees.