Passing grades

Entering grades, calculating final scores and tabulating attendance are tedious jobs for teachers.

Paul Chaffee has changed all that.

Chaffee, president of Akron-based Software Answers Inc., created Progress Book to help teachers better manage their time and data.

“It’s a Web-based grade book system and lesson plan system for K-12 teachers to use,” says Chaffee. “Parents can be allowed to access the system, too. The teacher uses it just like a grade book to put in assignments, grade homework and track attendance. Everything gets recorded and calculated.”

The software was designed to plug into the computer system that is used by 70 percent of the school districts in the state.

“When a school district has scheduled all its students in the system, our system automatically populates the students in the classes,” says Chaffee. “It also enables the school district to do the daily attendance, and it goes right into the main system. It tries to eliminate the duplication of work.”

Chaffee’s understanding of how the schools’ computer systems work and how the program should interface comes from his prior work for several years with the Cleveland Public Schools.

“It gave us an understanding of how the system was set up and allowed us to understand the needs and opportunities that were there,” says Chaffee.

The company is adding features and piloting a special education project. All state-required forms for special ed students will be filled out and maintained on the computer. It is also working on making it easier for teachers and administrators to share lesson plans and curriculum with other districts.

“What we’re trying to do is give them a vehicle where, as they enter in the lesson plan data, it will be made available for all teachers to use,” says Chaffee. “Since we’re becoming the standard grade book program in Ohio (the company has its program in 15 of 23 centralized school computer sites in the state), it puts us right at the teachers’ fingertips.

“We understand how Ohio is set up and what the schools need. The direct integration with the backend systems has really given us a competitive advantage. It’s been a lot of work, but we really do enjoy working with the schools.” How to reach: Software Answers Inc., (330) 665-9007