What does your dream grading software look like?

So, get this: I’m writing my own grading software.  This is largely because I really like computer programming and I want to try out some new technologies, but it’s also because I have found existing grading software severely lacking (especially now that I use this skill-centered grading that is not focused so much on deadlines).

If you have grading software that you love, what is it?  And, what about your grading software is most important to you?

For me:

  1. Automatic report generation
  2. Internet access for students

Thanks for any comments – I’m really pretty serious about making the ultimate grading solution here, and I’d love to incorporate your ideas if they meld well with mine.  I should note that my school does NOT have an EdLine-like service for all classes, and our teachers all use whatever grading system they can figure out.  If you don’t have this sort of burden / flexibility, this question is probably different for you!

9 thoughts on “What does your dream grading software look like?”

  1. I currently use a macro-fied excel spreadsheet that I found online. It has a form that allows me to easily add new assignments and students. I can also set up different grading categories (daily homework, participation, etc) and weight each category. I would love a system that did all of these things more elegantly, and also incorporated report generation and internet access as well.

    It would also be nice to have some sort of assignment archive, so you could easily incorporate assignments from previous years/terms into the current term, or set up repeating assignments, etc.

    Oh, and as long as I’m dreaming… what if you could make notes about specific assignments or student grades (e.g., explaining why a student got a zero, so I could reference it later, etc)? This might also make it possible to link to the actual assignment and/or a calendar – so if a student misses class or discovers a missing assignment they didn’t realize existed, they could easily link to it and get caught up.

  2. Our school shifted to http://www.teacherease.com last year and it has been a big hit for teachers, students and parents. It gives students and parents limited access via email and teachers can print reports for any of their students for all of their classes with a few quick clicks.

    1. @Chuck: Wow, teacherease.com even supports standards-based (skill-isolating?) grading. I’ll have to look into that further… maybe I shouldn’t waste my time! Thanks Chuck!

      @Sarah: What I have in mind definitely wants to keep track of assignments and assessments over multiple years. There’s a lot of data being lost. Is anyone organized enough to keep track of it?

  3. I am using Snapgrades for the first time this year. I love it. I have been able to make it work for my skills-based testing program. Check it out.

  4. One thing that I find myself needing, that’s rarely available, is the ability to excuse a student from an assignment, while still maintaining some info about their performance. So, for example, say I wanted to drop the lowest 4 homework grades. I’d still like to retain information about the student’s initial performance: did they do the assignment, but get a low grade? Did she just not turn it in? Was he absent that day? Did he skip class and take the resulting 0?

    My school currently uses EZ Grade Pro, and that’s one of the downfalls of the system. You can go back later and change a grade from “missing” to “excused”, but it’s an overwrite.

    Granted, my needs are probably different than many others due to the wacky nature of my school. Does anyone have a good experience with a system that may work well?

  5. Are you looking at writing gradebook software for Mac or Windows? (Just wondering as a Mac user…:)

    I use GradeKeeper which is easy to use and works on both Macs and PCs. It’s a lot like a paper gradebook, so it’s easy to use.

    I would add only a few features:

    1) the ability to easily and cleanly print the whole gradebook (it reprints student names and assignment headers on every page, using up a *lot* of extra paper and ink!)

    2) Maybe some more reports.

    3) Possibly a built in seating chart…

    But overall I’m really pleased with GradeKeeper — it seems to be the simplest and best choice so far.

    One thing you might want to think about in writing your program is the ability to use decimals when entering grades. That is, if the assignment is out of 5, the ability to give a student a 4.5 score is very important! Gradekeeper can, but my colleagues use EasyGrade which can’t.

  6. I’m developing on the web. Sorry schools without ubiquitous internet access, but… you should get it.

    As some of these comments come in, here and other places, I realize how much functionality teachers want out of software. A seating chart, for instance, is a great idea, but it would never have occurred to me to include it in grading.

    I think my software will also be primarily for math geeks. I’m envisioning entering equations instead of percentages to describe grade weights. My classes are graded with weird conditions and minimum requirements, so percentages are not powerful to express my scheme.

    I hope to have a beta up by the end of April with the core functionality working (of course, I also have to hire the staff for my summer camp, register campers, and, oh yeah, be a teacher and IT guy for my school). Stay tuned!

  7. My school uses PowerSchool, which I hate. Mainly because it locks you in to percentages and means.

    I just keep track in excel and then just fudge the grades in Powerschool so it ends up with what I want it to be.

    I liked excelsior software (used to be called Pinnacle), but that’s really just because it’s standards-based. It also included final scores based on mean/median/mode and power law. Those were just recommendations. The final grade was based on your professional judgment.

    So what I’m looking for?

    Like Sarah, I’d like a way to link my scores with comments. Like Assessment 1 score = “3” but student still needs standard 2b.

    A database I could upload all my standards to so I can link them to each assessment. They could also be linked to each student so I could just checkmark a box when they’ve mastered each standard.

    I also want beautiful data viz. Something like this
    http://whatitslikeontheinside.com/2009/11/data-visualization-for-classroom-part.html
    for each student and on a classroom and all classes level.

  8. Thanks for those ideas, Jason, and for that link. I’m inspired!

    I definitely want every kind of cross-referencing I can think of easily accessible. Working on the interface is the most challenging part of all this, clearly~

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