Finding out how your child is doing in school — and if they are actually going to class — is now just a swipe or text message away.
Parents and teachers are now able to connect through the app Kinvolved, which allows both parties to communicate on a live and daily basis to discuss how children are doing at school.
Through the app teachers are able to track daily attendance and lateness and send parents real-time text messages or emails letting them know what is going on with their children.
“We are helping with the foundational piece, which is seeing that kids show up,” said co-founder Miriam Altman. “Our goal is for students to show up so the teachers have the opportunity to teach the kids.”
The idea of the app Kinvolved was born after Altman connected with Alexandra Meis over the issue of attendance at schools and the overall affect it had on students’ education.
Altman, who was a teacher in the New York City public school system until 2011, and Meis, a parent advocate, each added different perspectives to the ongoing issue plaguing many New York City schools.
After winning a competition on developing an application that could improve an issue seen in every day life, Kinvolved was launched in beta testing in 2012.
Since then about 100 schools — most of which are city public schools serving students in high need communities — are using the app and there has been nothing but positive feedback from educators and parents.
“It’s a battle we feel that we are winning for sure,” Altman said. “We are consistently getting feedback from schools on how we can improve.”
Through the app, teachers track attendance and can send automated notification to parents in six different languages and parents are able to respond directly to the message, either through the mobile app or via their computers.
The notifications can also communicate about other topics such as update on upcoming tests, dates for parent teacher conferences and information on specific students.
And as the app continues to grow — with more features being added as more feedback rolls in from educators and parents — founders want to continue to see the impact it has on reducing both chronic lateness and absences. Overall, in the long term they would like to also be able to coordinate the data that comes through the application and correlate it with graduation rates at the schools.
“Our end goal is to improve the graduation rate,” Altman said. “We are very proud to be doing this work…And there is a lot of proof in the value of this.”
The proof has been great for Karoline Alexander, a community school director at P.S. 154 in Harlem, who has been using the app for about a year and has seen a great impact at the school.
“I love it. It’s a really great tool to not only track attendance but also contact our parents,” Alexander said. “This year it has been a huge boost for our family engagement.”
Alexander helped bring the application to the school about a year ago through the community-based organization Teacher College at Columbia University, which provided the funding for the app.
She added that prior to the app coming to the school, robocalls were used to alert parents of any student absence. However, many times the numbers for parents were wrong and messages were never received.
Now with the app, Alexander said parents are actually making sure their numbers are updated and are constantly engaging with teachers through email or texts. Parents alert teachers of their child’s absence or lateness and according to Alexander attendance has gone up two percent at the school since last year.
“Having Kinvolved has us step up our system,” she said. “I truly love it because I think our society is going that way to be totally technology based. So to be able to send a message back and forth to parents, it’s the new age.”