Home >> Technology >> Technology >> Technology >> Bernie Poole: Gradebook Programs (Part 2)

Search form

Reflecting Poole

Gradebook Programs:
Which Program
Achieves Its Goal?


Share

My first article on gradebook programs discussed the benefits of using computer-based tools for recording grades, as opposed to keeping grades the old-fashioned way, using a hardcopy gradebook and pen. The article concluded that, as with many computer applications, when you do it right, a computer-based approach beats manual methods hands down -- if you'll pardon the pun!

"Doing it right" means integrating individual student assessment across the curriculum, with national and state standards factored into the mix. So, students' grades tell everyone -- parents in particular-- how they're doing in all subjects compared with their peers across the state and across the nation.

Thaat's a tall order. Of the gradebook programs currently available, in my opinion at least, only one attempts to meet the challenge. That program is called InteGrade Pro (IGPro).

It should be said up front that IGPro is not easy to learn, and it can be quirky. According to Alix E. Peshette, technology training specialist for California's Davis Joint Unified School District, IGPro has a "considerable learning curve and a not particularly friendly interface."

If a school district using IGPro goes out of its way to provide training and support for the teachers, however, (as should always be the case with any system), and if the teachers are thus helped to get over the learning curve, IGPro is a highly effective tool for managing student grades.

In a discussion of gradebook programs on the excellent EDTECH, a listserv for technology-using educators, Jennifer Tazerouti, of the Union, South Carolina, school district, and a National Board Certified Teacher, writes: "Our district uses IGPro. Teachers are given scheduled dates to post their grades and the tech. administrator imports them. We print report cards. Everything works.

"We hold training sessions on a regular basis and have a beginning of the year session at which all the teachers attend an IGPro lab, and together with a trainer, set up their gradebooks for the year. When it's time for teachers to post grades, we try to have support available after school in case anyone has problems or questions."

The Union school district is thus "doing it right." And, as someone has quipped, "If it's not worth doing right, it's not worth doing at all."

Jennifer goes on to say, "The potential problems with any electronic gradebook are (1)that a teacher not set it up correctly, and (2)that the grades be calculated differently than the teacher intended. The beginning of the year labs help eliminate those problems."

Does IGPro include parents in the mix? Very definitely. "The best thing about IGPro," Ms. Tazerouti explains, "is the ability to e-mail parents progress reports. Parents love it for obvious reasons. And there's nothing like printing out a progress report, with all the assignments and grades listed, to hand to the parent at a conference."

"I used to print [and send to parents] progress reports for each student in my class every three weeks," Jennifer explains. "In my opinion, the benefits outweigh the problems with electronic gradebooks."

A major benefit of IGPro is remote access, which permits secure access to a single gradebook file from any computer with an Internet connection, making it easy to keep grade information current. Today, teachers can take care of grades wherever they happen to be, especially in those enlightened school districts where every teacher is given a wireless, Internet-ready laptop computer. IGPro will cross-reference e-mail addresses in the database to send progress reports to every parent in a class.

The IGPro software includes data visualization tools for making graphs and charts based on individual student and whole class grades. Those charts can be integrated with reports and presentations. The software also includes tools for creating seating charts, and keeping track of attendance. IGPro accommodates non-numeric grading, too. Thus teachers are not forced into grading by numbers if they prefer some other system of assessment for their students. As with most gradebook programs, IGPro includes a choice of weighted- or total-points-based grade calculation methods.

The goal of a good gradebook program is simple: Data transformed into information enables students, teachers, administrators, and parents to better assess a student's progress in school. IGPro goes a long way toward achieving that elusive goal.

About the Author

Bernie Poole, an associate professor of education and instructional technology at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, Pennsylvania, has been a teacher since 1966. For the first 15 years of his career, he taught English, history, French, or English as a foreign language primarily to middle school children in England, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia. Poole has published several books related to instructional technology. Two of the latest editions are available free of charge online at http://www.pitt.edu/~poole. He also has developed and maintains with Yvonne Singer the EdIndex, an extensive index of Web resources for teachers and students that can be accessed at http://www.pitt.edu/~poole/edmenu.html.

Author Name: Bernie Poole
Education World®
Copyright © 2007 Education World

09/19/2007