As anyone who is familiar with our application knows, PreciouStatus exists as an organization to connect individuals during the moments in their lives that matter the most – such as an important school accomplishment or an update on the care of a loved one that is unwell. On a surface level, that happens through a series of connections and updates that are pushed out via our application, but in actuality, what we’re doing is providing the tools to help build relationships. With that in mind, it stands to reason that as a company who is all about relationships, we also work to develop partnerships with other organizations that we believe would benefit from the use of our platform. As such, we recently partnered with the Catholic Schools Center of Excellence to implement the use of our app in Catholic schools across the dioceses of St. Paul and Minneapolis. And while at first blush, it may appear to be an unlikely alliance, the partnership is largely driven by our shared desire to build strong communities and help all students to be more successful in their academic careers.
The Catholic Schools Center of Excellence (CSCOE) is a non-profit organization with a simple goal – to help Catholic elementary students achieve excellence in education, while simultaneously helping Catholic schools to be the best they can be by offering a superior educational experience to their students. This is largely accomplished through a multi-part support strategy provided from the CSCOE to the schools and incorporates the sharing of innovative ideas, sound business practices and financial resources on an as-needed basis to help each school achieve their specific organizational goals. Gail Dorn, CSCOE President and Board Member, has stated “As a Catholic school parent, I know firsthand how valuable Catholic schools are to our entire community. Society benefits from students who are critical thinkers with a foundation in moral and spiritual values. Catholic schools create responsible and compassionate citizens — something we need now more than ever. I believe these schools play a vital role in our society.” It is through this lens that the CSCOE has examined the decisions that they make as an organization to better facilitate learning in the classroom, conscientiously choosing tactics that directly support that vision.
As such, the CSCOE believes that a new era of success for Catholic schools is imminent and will be largely facilitated by embracing new technologies in different ways (thus leading the Catholic Schools Center of Excellence to us). It’s no secret that parental engagement is a key ingredient to the academic success of a student and that students will be more engaged in their own education when they know it is valued by their parents and loved ones. As such, our PreciouStatus application seemed a natural fit to aid in the development of the critical thinkers and compassionate citizens that the CSCOE is hoping to mold. To date, the CSCOE has given grants to 41 different schools to implement our application in their classrooms, which has been met with overwhelming success and support from the parents at those schools. When asked why the application was just a vast improvement over previous resources, a parent at one of the CSCOE schools shared the following anecdote about her experience:
I have three kids in three different grades, which results in a lot of information coming our way. We get a full newsletter each week from each of my kids teachers, in addition to the newsletter that the school sends out. When you have a busy schedule, it can be easy to get lost in that amount of content, and often I’m not able to read the newsletters as carefully as I should. That means that sometimes important details get missed or I’m not able to give it the amount of time that I feel like I should. It left me wondering, can we just make this simpler? The PreciouStatus experience has eliminated the need to go hunting for information because it’s just right there.
Basically, because our application “pushes” information directly to parents on their phones, as opposed to forcing them to “pull” the information themselves (via a newsletter or email blast where they would have to hunt for the data they were looking for), the update is more engaging, personal and relevant than other communication channels. The application also provides daily nuances that would be impossible to communicate in a weekly newsletter, as their value lies primarily in their timeliness, making the updates an invaluable resource to broaden the education conversation between parent and student.
To gain some additional insights on how our PreciouStatus application has been performing in the CSCOE schools, we did some research on how parents felt about the use of the application, as well as what they most valued from the experience and how they would like to see the application improve. The following is an overview of our findings:
Classroom #1 – 4th Grade class in which the teacher has sent a total of 91 updates and was awarded “Best Parent Engagement”
- 100% of parents named photos as the best updates their teacher sends.
- 85% of parents viewed updates immediately.
- When asked to share their best experience with the PreciouStatus app, answers ranged from “I love to see what they are doing during the day. Plus, it’s fun to discuss the picture/activity with my daughter later in the day. If they see the picture, they will give more information about what they did in school.” to “I love that I get to see how actively engaged my child is in class. So exciting to see the diverse experiences they are having in class. It makes dinner conversations a lot more lively!”.
- Unanimously, parents felt that the application sufficiently met their needs to stay engaged with their child’s education and didn’t have any additional “wish list” items for the app.
Key Takeaways: Overall, almost every parent felt that PreciouStatus was having a positive impact on their student’s education. They also felt better equipped to have meaningful conversations with their students, at an age where kids might already be giving our favorite one word, non communicative responses (“How was your day?” “Good.” End of conversation.)
Classroom #2 – Preschool class, with 91 updates sent and winner of the “Parent Communication Award”
- Again, 100% of parents found photos to be the best updates sent by their child’s teacher. 65% of parents also appreciated behavior reminders, which demonstrates how our application can be leveraged differently depending on the age of the students in the classroom.
- 50% of parents view updates immediately, while another 38% of parents viewed any updates sent as soon as they were able.
- For parents in this classroom, their best experience with the app included “Getting a glimpse of my daughter in school, the only place I don’t get to see her interact!” and “I get to see what she is up to or remind her what she did that day. Because whenever I ask what she did her answer is always ‘I don’t remember’. So it has helped us be able to have better more in depth talks about her day at school.”
- As with Classroom #1, parents felt that the features provided by the PreciouStatus app more than gave them what they needed and no additional wish list items were desired.
Key Takeaways: The children in this classroom were quite a bit younger than those in classroom #1, which inevitably means that their parents have different goals for their education and different definitions of classroom success (as seen with how many of the parents most value behavioral updates, which is less of an issue as students age.) For students in this age demographic, it’s asking a lot to expect them to remember all the details of a long day and our application aids in that repetition and reinforcement.
Classroom #3 – Preschool classroom, with 70 updates sent throughout the first half of the school year.
- Photos and reminders were tied amongst 80% of parents as the most valuable information shared through the app. Behavior updates and “wins your child has” closely followed with 60% of parents most appreciating them. Finally, 20% of parents found short video clips and homework updates to be the most useful.
- 60% of all classroom parents viewed the updates as soon as they could, while the remaining 40% opened them immediately.
- Parents in this classroom had similarly positive experiences with the app, recounting experiences such as “Seeing him in his school environment is something both myself and my husband cherish. It’s like being that fly on the wall.” and “I have forgotten to bring something or forgot of a school event until I read a reminder”
- Without exception, parents in the third classroom found the experience provided by our app to be excellent and did not have any additional wish list items that would enhance the experience.
Key Takeaways: Again, this is a younger classroom, with students whose parents are probably juggling a different set of priorities than those in Classroom #1. Being able to see their child throughout the day (for some parents, preschool may be the first time that they’ve spent any extended period of time away from a child), either through videos or photos, goes a long way to helping them feel involved in a time that might otherwise feel like a mystery.
Classroom #4 – Kindergarten classroom, which has sent 50 updates to parents in the first half of the year.
- In this classroom, videos were the most popular updates, giving parents the opportunity to feel like they’re participating in their child’s education, whether by having the opportunity to see their kids in action or reinforcing learning (like new songs) through repetition later in the evening.
- 62% of parents open the updates sent by their classroom teacher as soon as they were able, with the remaining 38% of parents opening the updates when they were received.
- Feedback from parents has been overwhelming positive, sharing anecdotes such as “To be able to feel like I’m engaged in my child’s daily activities has been amazing. It allows me to have more specific conversations with my child about their day.” and “I love to see what they are doing in school! The homework reminders are very helpful!”
- As with the other three classrooms, parents felt the app was perfect! There was no additional wish list items that would have improved their interactions with the application.
Key Takeaways: As with the preschool classrooms, parents here loved seeing their students throughout the day and having the most important information pushed to them on an as needed basis, as opposed to having to try and remember to find the info on their own.
In addition to interviewing the parents as to the success of the application in their schools, we also wanted to take the time to touch base with the teachers who were actually using the application on a day to day basis (because as we all know, if they hated it, the updates would never actually get sent.). As with the parents, their response to the application was glowingly positive. After one month of using PreciouStatus, teachers were not only getting positive reinforcement from parents, they were also seeing a difference in the performance of the students themselves, as well as the relationships with the parents that they were trying to cultivate. A teacher at one school remarked “The children who see their parents actively involved tend to do better because they know it’s important”, while another commented that with the application, “the parents feel more involved, they’re able to more engaged, which makes it easier for us to work together.” In short, for the teachers, the PreciouStatus app helped to bridge the gap between where teachers wanted their relationship with the parents in their classrooms to be and where it actually was. One of the CSCOE teachers said it best when she stated “Now, it feels like we’re really a team between the teacher, the school and the parents. We believe that it really take a village to raise a child and the more people that care about these kids, the better it is.”
As the above findings demonstrate, the primary use of our application vary across each grade level to appropriately reflect how students at different stages in their academic journeys learn. However, the benefit to the student remains the same – a fact both parents and teachers can agree on and a finding that makes what we do all the more worth it.
“I love having relevant conversation topics for the car ride home after school. I can ask her about something specific and meaningful, which has been far more productive and enlightening than me asking her to volunteer information” – PreciouStatus/CSCOE parent user.