Gradebooks and report cards and transcripts, oh my

Gary FalconLearning Management, Product Features, School Management

These tools are so fundamental – and seem so straight-forward. Yet too often schools spend countless hours compiling grades, filling out spreadsheets and forms, building report cards in Word or Excel, and having no insight into overall school performance until the end of the term when often it is too late to intervene. 

What if there were a better way?  How would it work?  Here’s one approach:

Gradebooks belong to teachers, of course. But ideally they don’t exist in a vacuum.  Imagine a gradebook that automatically ties to your class calendars, so students and parents know what is coming up. And tying to the school calendar allows teachers to see what other assignments students have on a given day so they aren’t all assigning big projects and papers on the same day.

Even better, teachers should be allowed to share results with students and parents, so everybody is in the loop on performance in real-time.  And sometimes marks need to be explained or hard work acknowledged, so sharing comments along with grades is a big help.  But gradebooks are just step 1.

Report Cards are often the responsibility of administrators, but require cooperation from teachers.  At minimum, teachers need to report term-end grades. So at minimum systems should calculate a term-end grade that gets pushed to a report card. 

But is that enough? Usually not. 

Sometimes teacher discretion is required:  what if a student is just below a grade cutoff, but trended up over the course of the term?  And what about written comments? Or reporting of effort, class participation, and other details that are important to your school culture?

Your ideal report card system should prompt teachers for exactly those details you need. A calculated grade from the gradebook is a good start, but wouldn’t it be better to get everything at once, using your school-defined standards and conventions? 

As an administrator, your report card system should compile all the teacher input, allowing for review to ensure teacher comments are presented professionally and with the desired level of detail.  And once approved, wouldn’t it be nice to have a button that compiles report cards per student, with your school logo and exact details, and then publishes those online (securely, only for the intended student and parent of course), or makes them available to print and send home on paper?

The result:  many hours (and sometimes days or weeks) saved every term.

Transcripts seem almost easy in comparison:  all that is needed is to grab the term-end grades for all classes and present those, along with credits earned and GPA, for the history of a student.  But even that is an oversimplification.

In many cases discretion is required for transcripts, too.  Perhaps a student is earning only partial credit for a class due to extended illness.  Or a student who didn’t earn credit during the academic year has taken on a summer project to complete coursework, and earns their credit late.  Cases such as this illustrate why term-end grades should be reviewed before recorded as transcript grades – and why student transcript grades should be accessible and even editable by administrators.

While this may all sound too good to be true, such systems are accessible and in your reach today through Twine.

At Twine, we are excited about helping schools, passionate about transforming learning and focused on improving student achievement. We are proud to provide technology solutions that help schools achieve their goals. Want to know more about implementing a learning management system or maintaining and distributing grades? Contact us.