How to Organize a Teacher's Grade Book

Being organized will help you assess student progress quickly and effectively.
... StudioEDJO/iStock/Getty Images

K-12 teachers organize hard-copy and electronic grade books to keep track of vital student information, including attendance, homework and test scores. Kindergarten and early elementary teachers might not keep percentile or letter grades, depending on their district or school requirements, but they need to record student performance data. No exact science applies to maintaining a student grade book, but class-by-class and subject-by-subject systems make it easy to record grades and average them as needed.

1 Same Students All Day

Kindergarten and elementary teachers who have the same students all day should have a separate area at the beginning of their grade book to report daily attendance, including tardies. Organize student names in alphabetical order by first or last name on the first page in the vertical column so you can turn the pages and still see the list of names. Hard-copy grade books allow you to tear off the perforated edges at the beginning of each new page so you can align the columns with your original list. An electronic grade book saves your list of student names, enabling you to submit corresponding data one entry at a time. You might also assign each student a number and have students write their numbers at the top of each assignment. The number system makes it easy to enter grades and sort papers quickly to identify students who forgot to turn something in, elementary teacher Angie Dulaney at Delhi Elementary School in Louisiana suggests on the Teacher Vision website.

2 Subject-Oriented Reporting

Teachers who have the same students all day should organize their grade books by subject, listing them in the order in which they occur during the day. For example, if you teach math first period and social studies last period, math should be first in your grade book and social studies last. If you keep an electronic grade book, create a file for each academic subject. In the top horizontal divided row, list the number of available points for each assignment; later in the semester you might not remember if a particular assignment was worth 20 or 30 points. Give a brief, abbreviated definition of the assignment, such as "HW-4" for homework on page four or "T-1" for a test on Chapter One. With a hard-copy grade book, remember to leave several pages between academic subjects so you don't run out of entry space. Separating your subjects using colored paper clips allows you to quickly flip to the subject you want.

3 Different Students in Each Class

Middle-school and high-school teachers should organize their grade books by class. You'll need a section to report attendance -- a check mark for present, an "X" for absence and a "T" for tardy often works best -- and a section to report academic grades for each class. When using an electronic grade book, create a separate file for each. Don't tear off all the perforated edges in a hard-copy grade book; tear off only those that correspond with each class, and separate each class with a colored paper clip. You can divide assignments by homework, quizzes, tests and projects, or you can keep a running total. Avoid listing grades as percentiles, because a 90 percent on a 20-point homework assignment doesn't carry the same weight as a 90 percent on a 100-point test. You want to be able to divide the points earned by the total available points to calculate and average grades.

4 Statistical Data

Don't record every assignment or give every assignment a grade. Some assignments are purely for practice and don't need to be entered in your grade book, such as spelling practice sheets, review sheets and practice quizzes. Avoid writing personal comments in your grade book, and keep a separate file for each student that contains work examples, correspondence with parents and notations you've made about the student's performance. Your grade book should contain concrete statistical data that you can use to evaluate student progress.

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.