I’ve been toying with different grading systems.  As a new teacher, I’m willing to invest some time in this to find a solution that will work for me for a long while.

 My criteria: 

  • inexpensive
  • available no matter which computer I’m using (and whether or not I remembered my thumb drive)
  • allows for weighing of categories
  • allows for more than one of students
  • works for me in a way that makes sense to me

Things I’ve tried:

  • paper system
  • Excel spreadsheet
  • My Gradebook
  • Engrade

My analysis. 

  • Paper systems are bulky, easy to forget, difficult to update (writing in pen makes changing grades difficult).  I end up having to do a lot of calculations and spend a lot of time with a calculator.  It’s a waste of time and energy.  They are good for recording but that’s about it.  In fact, I don’t think that traditional grade/lesson plan books are good for much of anything other than getting in my way of being truly organized.
  • Excel spreadsheets work well.  That is what have used for the last two years.  The problems with them are two-fold.  First of all, if I am at work and forgot my spreadsheet well, then I have to write it all down on paper and then remember to record it in the spreadsheet.  Secondly, I am unable to easily categorize and weigh differently types of assignments — for example, in Math, I weigh homework and tests differently.  In Excel, this is difficult.
  • My Gradebook.  This works.  It’s a great system, full of useful features.  It is pretty complicated and has a fairly high learning curve to it, in my opinion.  The biggest downfall is cost.  It costs $50/year.  That comes out of my pocket and I find it hard to justify that kind of expense when there are free options available.  The pros with an online gradebook — online means access anywhere.  I could take a stack of papers to my mother-in-law’s and record the grades from there.  Fantastic.  It does the calculations for you (like Excel) but you can also set up categories and weigh them differently.  My Gradebook also has a nice feature that allows you to discard a set number (that you set) of assignments in a particular category.  That is a nice feature.  But, is it worth paying for?
  • Engrade.  Has most of the benefits of My Gradebook plus one huge advantage . . . it’s free!  Truly free.  Amazing! It’s easy to work with, has the features that I require — it works.  It’s my pick.