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Top-To-Bottom Gradebook Tutorial

We love gradebooks!

As a student information system (SIS), we at QuickSchools love gradebooks - from how neat and orderly they are to their cool and complex formulas and calculations. Our Gradebook feature is a reflection of that, and we're excited to share it with you - the user!

For a little information about this tutorial, it's aimed at helping teachers accomplish everything Gradebook-related from start to finish. It'll cover in detail the whole gamut of functionalities from basic to advanced, and is designed to be helpful for both public and private school teachers. Thanks for reading, and enjoy!

Table of Contents

Part 1: Basic Functions

  1. Adding Columns
  2. Adding Grades and Using the Legend
  3. Adding Notes
  4. Saving the Gradebook
  5. Switching Between Subjects and Sections
  6. Views
  7. Standards-Based Gradebook

Part 2: Formulas

  1. Adding Formulas
  2. Weight Factors
  3. Extra Credit
  4. Troubleshooting

Part 3: Grading Scales

  1. About Grading Scales
  2. Changing Grading Scales
  3. Adding Grading Scales
  4. Equal Interval Grading

Part 4: Gradebook Templates

  1. About Gradebook Templates
  2. Creating and Editing Templates
  3. Using Templates

Section 5: Exporting

  1. About Exporting
  2. Export Gradebook
  3. Print Gradebook
  4. Print Student Progress Reports
  5. Missing Grades / Ds and Fs Report

Section 6: Advanced Functions

  1. Edit Gradebook Settings
  2. Auto-Filling
  3. Data From Other Grading Periods

Section 7: More Resources

  1. Articles
  2. Videos

 

Part 1: Basic Functions

Section 1: Adding Columns

The foundations of the Gradebook feature are in the ability to add and manipulate columns. Columns represent grades given, so adding columns represents adding new items for grading. To do this, open up the Gradebook and click the green “Add Column (Ctrl-A)” button. As the text on the button indicates, you can also use control+A (Mac and Windows both) to do the same.

This opens up a new dialog box, with the words “Add Gradebook Column” at the top. There are four fields - Column Name, Category, Date, and Total Marks - and each represent a different trait of the item you’re adding for grading. In the Column Name field, simply type in the name of the item. The Category field is a dropdown menu (configured at the Admin level) that functions to group similar items together when creating formulas (see part 2, "Formulas", for more information), so you’ll want to select the most fitting option. The Date field is a standard QuickSchools date selector, where you can either type the correct date of the assignment into the box or point-and-click the right date from the mini calendar view. In either case, the date selected has relatively low impact, but should be the most accurate date possible for the purposes of good record-keeping if nothing else. Finally, Total Marks is another text field, and relates directly to how the assignment is graded. If the assignment is graded as x/100, enter 100; if a 5-point scale is used, enter 5. Either way, it’s important to note that Total Marks does not correlate to the impact the graded item has in the students’ overall grades. Finally, note that awarding extra credit on an assignment is easy to do with Total Marks - simply enter a higher mark than the Total Marks.

Once you’ve entered all the information you want, simply click the red “Add” button and you’re done! It’s a good idea now to save the Gradebook. (For more detail, see part 1 section 4, "Saving the Gradebook", below.)

 

Section 2: Adding Grades and Using the Legend

To add a grade, all you have to do is click into a cell and type a number. From there, you can either point-and-click for each individual cell, or use tab to move through your Gradebook (horizontally).

The Gradebook legend, viewable at the bottom of your screen, introduces more flexibility in adding grades. Configurable only at the school level (under Grading Setup, available only to account administrators), the legend feature allows grades entered to be more descriptive than just a number. A great example of how this works is the fact that the system does not count blank table cells as zeroes. As the legend indicates, any grades "<[Left] Blank>" "will not be counted". This behavior is one of only two legend components that cannot be changed by administrators, the other behavior being that zeroes entered into the Gradebook are counted.

 

Section 3: Adding Notes

Notes are a handy tool that let you comment on student performance. There are two kinds of notes: a public note, and a private note. Public notes are only public insomuch as they are viewable by the student who received the grade, the student’s parent(s), and school faculty/staff. Private notes, then, are only viewable by school faculty/staff.

To enter a note, simply mouse over the cell containing the grade you’re looking to comment on. A square, pink speech bubble will appear; click on it, and enter the comment in the appropriate field. Once you’re done, simply hit “Add Comments” in the red button below, and you’re all set!

 

Section 4: Saving the Gradebook

Because it doesn’t use auto-save, the Gradebook needs to be saved (manually) all the time. Luckily, this is a very quick process! There are two ways to save the Gradebook:

      1. Click the red “Save (Ctrl-S)” button towards the top-right corner of the Gradebook.
      2. Simply use control+S (Mac and Windows both) to save the Gradebook without moving your cursor. This is the more recommended option, since it’s easier to do frequently.

 

Section 5: Switching Sections and Subjects

Switching between sections and switching between subjects is functionally the same. To do it, click on the blue-outlined rectangle next to the word “Subject”, towards the top-right of the Gradebook. Then, either visually find the correct subject and/or section in the list that appears below, or type the subject/section into the rectangle to search. Finally, click on the proper subject/section to switch Gradebooks.

 

Section 6: Views

The Gradebook has two views for entering data: a “normal” mode, and a more “full-screen” mode. To switch between them, click on the button with a green rectangle and a green arrow pointing to a corner of the rectangle. 

  • When toggling “full-screen” mode, the arrow will be pointing towards the top-right corner of the rectangle.
  • When toggling “normal” mode, the arrow will be pointing to the bottom-left corner of the rectangle. 

Either view is completely useable, and both have different applications. Overall, “full-screen” mode tends to be best when dealing with large Gradebooks that have lots of columns and lots of data, while “normal” mode lets you work with smaller Gradebooks as well as have a more holistic view of your Gradebook. It’s completely up to you!

 

Section 7: Standards-Based Gradebook

Although functionally similar, in practice our Gradebook and Standards-Based Gradebook (SBG) are two entirely separate features. Therefore, the SBG will not be covered whatsoever in this tutorial. For more information, we encourage you to explore our materials on SBG.

 

 Part 2: Formulas

Section 1: Adding Formulas

Formulas are an absolutely integral aspect of the Gradebook, functionally elevating the feature from being a glorified data storage platform into an intelligent solution for manipulating data. Their main application is for final grades, but they can be used for any calculation of grades.

To add a formula, start by clicking the green "Add Formula" button. This opens a dialog box, with several fields:

Formula name  By default, this says “Final Grade”. Simply highlight and re-type to change.
Total Marks  By default, this field has “100”. This is totally customizable, depending entirely on your grading structure, and determines the denominator of the final grade. In other words - keep 100 in this field to grade out of 100; to grade out 4, change the number to 4. As with the formula name, to change just highlight and re-type (and make sure to enter a number only).
Is final grade?  This checkbox is toggled on by default, and should stay on if the grades calculated by the formula are to be used in report cards or progress reports to represent the student’s performance in the class. All other formulas should have this toggled off. Note that there must only be 1 final grade in order for report cards and progress reports to be populated with data.
Weight factors  This is where things get really cool. Weight factors let you customize the formula however you’d like, giving total control over the calculation. (For detail on use, see part 2 section 2, “Using Weight Factors”, below.)

Once all parts of the formula have been added, simply click the red “Add” button to finish the process. Don’t forget to save the Gradebook!

 

Section 2: Weight Factors

Gradebook formulas are fundamentally average calculations, and all average calculations follow the same basic method: find the sum of all parts, then divide by the number of parts. Weight factors take this one step further, calculating the averages of groups of data and then telling the system how much each group should weigh (hence the name) in the final calculation. Each weight factor represents a group of data, and the number in the % field above the weight factor represents the relative weight of the group in the final calculation.

The simplest Gradebook formula possible involves a single weight factor, with all relevant categories/assignments/formulas selected and “100” entered into the % field, and represents a standard average calculation. Most Gradebook formulas, however, involve several weight factors. To add a weight factor, simply click the gray “>>Add Another Weight Factor” button towards the right of the dialog box. It’s completely up to you what each weight factor represents. Most commonly, a weight factor stands for a single column category, such as “Test” or “Homework”, but it can have multiple categories selected or, via the gray “Show Items” button(s), one or more individual columns or formulas. In order for the formula to function, the % fields of all weight factors must add up to at least 100; other than that, the % of each weight factor is entirely customizable. They don’t need to be particularly “pretty” numbers and can even include decimal points, as long as altogether they add up to at least 100.

As an example, the weight factors of a Gradebook with the categories “Test”, “Project”, “Homework”, and “Participation” might look something like this:

  • Test - 30%
  • Project - 20%
  • Homework - 35%
  • Participation - 15%

 

Section 3: Extra Credit
To add extra credit to a Gradebook’s final grade, you’ll want to do a few things. First, make sure your school has an Extra Credit category available (if it doesn’t, contact an administrator to have them set one up under Grading Setup). Next, create three columns:

  1. A final grade-style formula. Weight factors should be assigned as appropriate and should exclude the “Extra Credit” category. Be sure to keep “Is final grade?” disabled, and it’s a good idea to name it something clear, such as “Final Grade Without Extra Credit”.
  2. An extra credit column. Use the Extra Credit category and enter “1” in the Total Marks field. For cleanest record-keeping, it’s a good idea to name it something like “Final Grade Extra Credit”.
  3. An actual final grade formula. It should have “Is final grade?” enabled, and should include two weight factors: your “Final Grade Without Extra Credit” formula, selected by clicking “Select Items” next to “Formulas”, and with “100” entered in the % field; and your “Final Grade Extra Credit” column, selected via “Select Items” next to Extra Credit, and with “1” in the % field.

Finally, save the Gradebook and that's it! You can now award optional extra credit without penalizing students who do not earn any.

 

 

Section 4: Troubleshooting

Although formulas tend to be quite stable as a feature, there are several situations wherein they might not be functioning as expected. Here are a few possible reasons below!

 

“I” for Incomplete: If a formula is populated with an “I” instead of a number, it means only that there is one or more “unfulfilled” category set as a weight factor. In other words, the formula is being told to act on data that doesn’t exist and instead is showing an uppercase “i”. This behavior is something an account administrator can configure from Grading Setup, with the option to “Re-Normalize” (i.e., calculate the formula as though you never asked to include the “unfulfilled” category to begin with) instead of showing incompletes. As a teacher, you can also remedy incompletes by “fulfilling” the category and creating/entering data for at least one column of the relevant category.

 

Incorrect math: Our formula feature has been tested extensively - by QuickSchools, by time, and by very heavy usage. However, if ever you’re concerned a formula isn’t calculating accurate data, we absolutely want to help! It’s a good idea to begin by performing the calculation on your end, either by hand or on an Excel sheet, to see if the result of the formula still seems incorrect. From there (or even before, if you like), definitely contact QuickSchools immediately so we can look into the issue.

 

Part 3: Grading Scales

Section 1: About Grading Scales

Grading scales make up a core feature of the Gradebook; like formulas, they perform a vital calculation on grades and, like formulas, without them the Gradebook would be hardly useful. Essentially, grading scales assign a letter grade to each numerical grade entered, depending on the conditions you or a school administrator specify. Finally, note that the bottom of your Gradebook will always display the grading scale you’re using.

 

Section 2: Changing Grading Scales

Some schools opt for teachers to be able to change their grading scales within the Gradebook, choosing between a preset selection of scales. If your school has, you can do this from either the “Change Grading Scale” link in the bottom-right corner of your Gradebook or through by clicking the pink gear icon towards the top-right region of the Gradebook. Both of these options will open the Edit Gradebook Settings menu. (For more information on the Edit Gradebook Settings menu, please see part 5 section 1, “Edit Gradebook Settings”, below.)

From here, click on the drop-down menu next to “Grading scale”, towards the top-right region of the dialog box. Select the correct grading scale and save your selection using the red “Save” button at the bottom of the box. Save the Gradebook, and you’re all set!

 

Section 3: Adding Grading Scales

Schools also may choose to allow teachers to create their own grading scales. If yours has, start by following the steps to change the grading scale (see section 2, “Changing Grading Scales”, above). Then, from the Edit Gradebook Settings menu, instead of selecting from the dropdown menu, click the blue “Create new scale” link towards the bottom of the box. This will then open a dialog box with the words “New Grading Scale” at the top.

The “Grading scale name” and “Description” fields at the top of the box allow you to name and provide some description, respectively, for each grading scale. The table below is where the meat of the matter takes place. By default, the parameters for your existing grading scale will be configured in the blue table in this menu. However, this isn’t actually your existing grading scale, so feel free to delete rows using the gray “Delete” buttons and to edit rows by highlighting and re-typing in cells as much as you’d like. To create new rows, simply click the gray “Add Row” button towards the top-left region of the dialog box.

Grading scales are important, and for them the details matter (particularly during configuration). Here are some helpful hints that might make those details easier:
Whatever you enter into the “LABEL” column will be what appears in the Gradebook as well as report cards and progress reports. Although you can type something long if you want, it’s a good idea to keep it as short as possible, for the sake of clean data if nothing else.
Rows can’t overlap. In other words, the min value of one row must be less than the max value of the next row.
You can have as few or as many rows as you’d like. Don’t be afraid to get detailed!

Once you’ve created the grading scale, save it using the red “Ok” button in the New Grading Scale menu, then the red “Save” button in the Edit Gradebook Settings menu, and finally as always don’t forget to save the Gradebook.

To edit or delete your custom grading scale at any time, reopen the Edit Gradebook Settings menu, make sure the custom grading scale is active (if it’s not, activate it quickly using the dropdown menu next to “Grading scale”) and select “Customize this scale”. This opens up a menu identical to the New Grading Scale menu, except it says Edit Grading Scale at the top and has a blue “Delete Grading Scale” link above the upper-right corner of the blue table. Note that deleted scales cannot be easily retrieved, so only click it if you’re sure of what you want to do.

Once you’re finished editing the scale, click the red “Ok” button, save the Edit Gradebook Settings menu again, and save the Gradebook. You’re good to go!

 

Section 4: Equal Interval Grading

Available to public schools only: some schools might choose to implement an equal grading technique among Gradebooks. Setting this up is both a somewhat lengthy and a highly customizable process, and will not be discussed in detail in this tutorial. Instead, please find out more about it in our article called “How To Setup Equal Interval Grading”.

 

Part 4: Gradebook Templates

Section 1: About Gradebook Templates

 

 

For teachers who reuse the same basic Gradebook format - perhaps each  grading period, for multiple sections/subjects, or both - the template feature is a time-saver, making it so you don’t need to recreate and reorder columns and formulas repeatedly. They’re a handy tool designed to help you save a bunch of valuable time and effort.

 

Section 2: Creating and Editing Templates

To utilize Gradebook templates, click the button towards the top right with a gray stack-of-papers icon on it. Next, select the gray “Templates” button under Gradebook Templates (bottom-right option) to open the a template management menu.

To add a template, click the green “Create Template” and enter a suitable name. By default, this will make a snapshot of your Gradebook, creating a new Gradebook template with all columns and formulas existing in your Gradebook. Edit the template by either searching for it in the search bar or by manually finding it in the blue table labelled “Existing Templates”. Once found, select it from the table by clicking anywhere in the row except the “Share” link or the gray “Insert” button. Note also that you can click the “NAME” header at the top of the blue table to switch between sorting the table in ascending and descending alphabetical order by template name, and you can change the number of rows per page using the gear button.

This in turn opens a menu where you can edit the template from a five-column blue table. Each row represents a column in the Gradebook. Except for the first column on the left (which allows you to click and drag the four-dot “grips” to reorder rows) and the first column on the right (which allows you to remove individual rows from the template using the blue “X” links), each column represents a column characteristic in the Gradebook. Use the “Name” field to change the template name, the green “Add Column” button to add blank rows to the template (remember, rows in the template stand for columns in the Gradebook!), and blue “Delete” link in the lower-right area to delete the template altogether. Note that formulas are preserved in templates as they are in the Gradebook, and can’t be altered or added once the template has been created. Once you’re all done, save the template and exit the editing menu with the red “Save” button.

Clicking the gray “Insert” button will insert the template into the Gradebook that’s currently open below the Gradebook Template menu. To share your template with all staff and faculty in the school, click the blue “Share” links and confirm your action using the red “Share” button on the box that pops up. Close the Gradebook Template menu using either the red “Close” button or the orange “x” in the top-right corner of the dialog box. (Note that the orange “x” is in the green section of the box, so it might be hard to find.) And at last, simply save the Gradebook and you’re good to go!

 

Section 3: Using Templates

To insert a template into a Gradebook, start by opening up the Gradebook Template menu through the stack-of-papers button and then “Templates”. Now, find the right template from the table (either by searching with the search bar or simply looking through the table manually).

Once found, click the blue “Insert” link towards the bottom-right region of its row in the table. The link is aptly-named - clicking it simply inserts the contents of the template into the Gradebook open below the Gradebook Templates menu. Be careful with it, however - clicking the “Insert” link multiple times will insert the template multiple times, and each column will have to be deleted manually.

After inserting the template, close the menu and save the Gradebook. To insert the template into another Gradebook, switch to the proper Gradebook and reopen the Gradebook Templates menu there. And that’s it! This process can be repeated as many times as you need and in as many grading periods as you need. As always, remember to save the Gradebook each time after adding a template.

Part 5: Export Options

Section 1: About Exporting

Exporting represents another core functionality of the Gradebook. Without the ability to export, the Gradebook would be highly restricted in its applicability, restricting data entered and manipulated from ever leaving the Gradebook screen.

There are two main ways of exporting Gradebook data: through features, and through export options. Intuitively, the features route includes things like report cards, parents and student portals, and reports. The second method of exporting data involves the features below.

 

Section 2: Export Gradebook

This feature will simply export the entire Gradebook as a .csv file. To access it, click the gray stack-of-papers button and click the gray “Export” button below the words “Export Gradebook” to download the file - no configuration necessary!

 

Section 3: Print Gradebook

To print a Gradebook, begin by clicking on the gray stack-of-papers button and select “Print” underneath “Print Gradebook”, towards the top-left corner of the dialog box. In the next screen, configure the printout with the settings that appear.

Underneath Print Options, you can:

  • Include or exclude students who have no grades entered in any columns
  • Include or exclude students who have been dropped from the section/subject
  • Choose between student names or student numbers for use in the printout
  • Print an empty gradebook, with zero students or grades entered and as many empty columns as you choose to include

Layout Settings allows you to specify how many columns will be put on each page. The printout will be in a landscape orientation, so don’t hesitate to include quite a few columns.

Once you’ve configured the printout as you’d like, select either the red “Print” or red “Download” button to download the export. If you decide not to print the Gradebook after all, simply click the gray “Cancel” button or select the orange “x” in the top-right corner of the dialog box.

 

Section 4: Print Student Progress Reports

This option will download progress reports for each student you select. Progress reports are in a style similar to those downloaded through student records, although unsurprisingly they only include students’ grade data from the Gradebook currently open when you download the progress reports.

To access this option, select the gray stack-of-papers icon towards the top-right region of the Gradebook. Select the gray “Print” button below “Print Progress Reports”, and configure the number of students to export progress reports. By default, this feature will export progress reports for all students in the Gradebook; however, entering or selecting students’ names in the field labelled “Select students (if needed)” will restrict the export to only those specified. From here, click either the red “Print” or red “Download” buttons to export the zip file of progress reports. If you decide not to print progress reports after all, simply click the gray “Cancel” button or select the orange “x” in the top-right corner of the dialog box.

 

Section 5: Missing Grades / Ds and Fs Report

This export option is most suitable for teachers looking to report on low and/or missing grades. To access it, click the gray stack-of-papers button and select the gray “Generate Report” button below “Missing Grades / Ds and Fs Report”. This will then create a new dialog box, stepping you through the process of generating and downloading the report. This feature has detailed onscreen instructions; follow these to configure the report, and use the red “Print” and/or “Download” button(s) at the bottom of the page to generate the report. If you decide not to generate this report after all, simply click the gray “Cancel” button or select the orange “x” in the top-right corner of the dialog box.

 

Part 6: Advanced Functions

Section 1: Edit Gradebook Settings

Because everyone has different workflow and teaching styles, the Gradebook is designed to be configurable however you need. The “Edit Gradebook Settings” menu, accessible from the pink gear icon towards the upper-right region of the Gradebook, provides quite a bit of flexibility in this regard. Once opened, you can configure on the left the following settings:
“Show letter grade” - keep this checked off to include letter grades from the Gradebook, and unchecked to exclude them.
“Show class average” - check this off to have a class average at the bottom of each column, visible only to you.
“Format Student Names” - select or type in one of three options from this dropdown menu, regarding how student names are formatted in the Gradebook. The level of flexibility available here also depends upon how administrators have student names configured from the Settings menu.
“Column ordering” - choose between five options for the order in which columns appear in your Gradebook. Note that the “By column name” option sorts alphabetically, and the “By category” option will also alphabetize columns within each category.

The right-hand region of this menu relates entirely to grading scales. For more grading scale information, see part 5, “Grading Scales”, above. To close and save changes made within this menu, click the red “Save” button towards the bottom. To close without saving, click either the gray “Cancel” button or the orange “x” in the top-left corner of the dialog box. Once you’ve finished configuring settings, don’t forget to save the Gradebook!

 

Section 2: Auto-Filling

Sometimes it might be appropriate to enter the same grade on a column for every or almost every student in the class. With small classes, it’s not a big deal to do this by hand; with larger classes, however, this can get very cumbersome. To solve this, we have a handy auto-filling feature that allows you to enter the same grade on a column in bulk.

To access it, simply mouse over the top cell in the column. A button with a pink arrow (pointing down) within a pink circle will appear in the bottom-left corner of the cell. Click on it to open a dialog box with “Auto Fill Column” at the top. In the “Marks” field, type in the grade to award in bulk. Next, click the “Only fill if empty” checkbox if you don’t want to replace any existing grades in the column with the new value; if you do want to overwrite existing grades, keep this unchecked. Finally, click the red “Auto-Fill Column”, save the Gradebook, and you’re good to go!

 

Section 3: Data From Other Grading Periods

Available for public schools only: some teachers may opt to include grades from other grading periods in a Gradebook and, therefore, a Gradebook calculation. This is done through the use of the Default Column feature, a functionality vast enough it would be a distraction to include instructions for use here. Instead, for more information on this feature, please see our existing article, “Default Gradebook Columns For Transferring Averages To Report Cards”.

 

Part 7: Resources

Section 1: Articles

In addition to this tutorial as well as our lovely Support team, we have tons and tons of material about and relating to the Gradebook available.

For public schools:

For private schools:

Section 2: Videos

In addition to articles and Support, we also have several relevant videos available. Note that the top two videos in this list are also viewable towards the bottom-left corner of the Gradebook. Enjoy!

 

 

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