Keeping a grade book is unique to each teacher; what works for one teacher may not work for another. So, as a new teacher, it is important to learn the basics and then adapt them to suit your needs and preferences. A teacher must maintain strict organization to keep themselves, students and parents aware of student progress and achievement. Keeping an organized grade book is the first step in reaching this goal. The following article provides one way of keeping an accurate grade book and illustrates various other ways to organize information.
How to Keep a Gradebook
Use a pencil. This is the best choice when keeping manual grade books in the event you may need to add or delete students throughout the grading period, or change some of their grades.
Enter class roster. Most grade books require names to appear vertically down the left-hand side. If using an electronic grade book, the names will appear automatically in the last name-first name format. If keeping a manual grade book as a backup, it is best to use this method as well as it will arrange students alphabetically and help to organize data quickly.
Choose categories for class work. Categories will differ, but some common fields may include homework, quizzes, exams and participation. These categories will appear horizontally across the top of the grade book and will then be subdivided into specific assignments.
Decide upon a total points or weighted system for calculating grades. Total points is easier to keep track of manually as you simply divide the total points that the student has earned by the total points possible. A weighted system is more accurate and assigns certain percentages for the different categories of grades. For example, homework can be weighted less (10 percent) than an exam (30 percent) to determine the student's overall grade. Depending on the method of calculation you choose, this will determine how you total the grade book at the end of each grading period. If your grade book is electronic, the computer will automatically total these categories and update the final average or percentage after each new assignment entered.
Enter dates. Dates should appear across the top above each specific assignment. A common method is to write the date that an assignment is due or an exam is given. This will allow you to organize a student's attendance along with their scores. For example, if Sally is absent on Sept. 20 and exam I is given on that day, it is immediately apparent to the teacher that Sally must make up that exam.
Write in specific assignments. These should appear under the dates they are due. Be specific with the titles of assignments (acrostic poem; anatomy lab #1), so that at the end of the grading period, you can discuss specific grades with parents and students with accuracy.
After grading each assignment, enter scores into the grade book. It is best to try and update grades weekly, or as soon as possible to avoid confusion or an overabundance of clerical work. Plus, students will then be aware of their grade and what they need to accomplish on a consistent basis.
Even if the school district uses an electronic grade-book format, it is a good idea to keep a manual backup in the event of technical malfunctions, lost data or inconsistency in grades. With a manual backup, you can double-check the accuracy of the electronic grade book and have a copy of student grades even if a computer system is down.
- Merle J. Whaley, 2003