The Benefits of a Secure Digital Report Card Distribution System

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Digital report card distribution systems have been helping K-12 schools and districts save money on paper, ink, and mailing costs for more than fifteen years. However, some systems lack the necessary mechanisms to keep student data secure, ensure report cards are received by parents, and prevent student interception.

Back in 2005, the Chicago Tribune published a report explaining how the days of hiding report cards from mom and dad would soon be over due to K-12 schools adopting digital report card distribution systems. In most cases the systems consisted of online portals that parents could access from home, and although the concept of digital report card distribution received a warm reception, the report raised concerns about how the systems might increase the pressure on students to do well at schools.

Since the Chicago Tribune report was published, there is no evidence to support the theory that distributing report cards digitally increases pressure on students. However, in the intervening fifteen years, school networks with online parent portals have been hacked by students, parents have complained the online portals are difficult to navigate, and there has been an increasing number of “security professionals” offering to fix students’ grades for a small fee.

The Current State of Digital Report Card Distribution

It is hard to assess the current state of digital report card distribution because while some school districts have changed from pen and paper reports to digital reports, others have reverted back to distributing report cards through the mail. There has also been a growth in report cards being sent by email – which not only has the benefit of keeping costs down, it also eliminates the need for a public-facing portal and the risk of data being accessed without authorization.

While emailing report cards reduces costs and data security concerns, there is still no way of knowing if the reports are read by parents or if students have intervened by accessing their parents´ email accounts and editing or deleting the email before their parents have had a chance to read it. Popular websites such as RedditWikihow, and YouTube have plenty of examples of how students can access parental email accounts and edit/delete electronic report cards before parents are aware the cards have arrived.

The Solution: Password Protected School Report Cards

Password protected school report cards are password protected PDF files sent as email attachments that require a username and password to open. As well as being password protected, the school district sending the password protected school cards has access to delivery reports and read receipts. This makes it possible to determine whether or not an email has been deleted without being read- in which case the school district can notify parents via an alternative channel of a “communication issue”.

The likelihood of students accessing their parents´ email accounts and being able to open password protected school cards is vastly reduced due to students needing two sets of passwords to access the PDFs. Therefore, electronically delivered password protected school report cards not only save school districts money and eliminate the risks associated with online parent portals, they also ensure report cards are received by parents and prevent student interception.

Other Benefits of a Password Protected School Cards PDF System

For most K-12 schools and districts, a secure digital report card distribution system that sends password protected school card PDFs is likely to be used three or four times per pupil, per school, per year. For the majority of school districts, this level of utilization is sufficient to justify the small cost of a system and the time invested in teaching administrators and other school personnel how to use it. However, the system can also be used in other ways to increase the return on investment and improve school/parent communications.

For example, school districts can use the system to distribute password protected school progress reports, password protected school evaluations, password protected school transcripts, and password protect student  schedules. With each of these documents, the school district can be assured the electronically-delivered PDF has been received by its intended recipients – or informed that the document has been deleted without being read by its intended recipients.

Find Out More about the SwiftReach Digital Report Card Distribution System

SwiftReach is a leading provider of emergency notification and incident management solutions, and since 2018, part of the Rave Mobile Network family. As such, our K-12 clients have access to a wide selection of school safety solutions, multi-modal communication apps, and anonymous tip-texting solutions. If you would like to find out more about the SwiftReach digital report card distribution system, or any of our other K-12 solutions, do not hesitate to get it touch.