To average or not to average – that is the question?

Our grading program has the ability to have marking columns user defined or system defined.  Right now the marking columns of Quarter 1, Quarter 2, Quarter 3, and Quarter 4 are defined.  But, Semester 1, Semester 2, and Final are not, they must be manually entered.  As a matter of fact a teacher has to hand calculate averages to get grades for  Semester 1, Semester 2 and Final grade.

Many people in Middle School have remarked that Quarter 1 and Quarter 2 should be averaged to find Semester 1 and Quarter 3 and Quarter 4  should be averaged to find Semester 2, and Semester 1 and Semester 2 should average to find Final.  This could be done system wide, or the system could allow each teacher to define those Semester 1, Semester 2 and Final marking columns on their own.  The question to you is what do you guys want it to  be?  Keep in mind that even if the program averages the grades to get the results you can always override those results.  Also, it is a all or none, if we go with user defined each of you would have to create your own calculation for those columns because the default would be nothing.If we systm define it would be the same for all.  Please give this some thought and post your comments.

I will keep this open until May 31st at which time I’ll present it to Jane, Sam, and Tom and from there a decision will be made.  I need to have this resolved before June 15th when we begin the process for creating classes for ’07 – ’08.  I do believe you will all agree something needs to change with how those marking columns are defined.

Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.

11 thoughts on “To average or not to average – that is the question?

  1. Make it system wide and we can always change -nip and tuck grades we feel we need to. It was not a big deal to enter the information- but the time could have been better spent.

  2. For upper school, the semester grade is determined by a weighted average of the two quarters and the exam. This varies depending on the course. For “regular” courses, it’s 0.4-0.4-0.2. For AP, it’s 1/3-1/3-1/3.

    This would lead me to conclude that we cannot have a system-wide procedure.

  3. Michelle-

    How these are defined for the Upper School depends upon the type iof course (regular, Honors or AP) as well a certain other variables. For example, each semester grade incorporates both quarters and the exam. However, the exam counts for 20% of the semester grade in regular courses, 25% in honors, and an even higher percentage (30 or 35% – a little help from an AP teacher here) in an AP course. On the other hand, the Sophomores had no semester exam in the Fall, and graduating Seniors are sometimes exempt from a Final Exam.

    Personally, I’m OK with you setting the defaults however you wish (probably just averaging the two quarters for each semester is easiest) as long as it’s easy to override.

    Bob Warzeski

  4. Hi Michelle,

    There are lots of Raiser’s Edge users at the Blackbaud User Society, but not many Education Edge users. When you have a second, check us out at You might be able to get and give help to those struggling with Blackbaud products.


  5. 1. Is it possible to have a separate system, or at least separate default settings, for the Upper School?
    I hate the thought of policies being determined uniformly for both divisions. I don’t want to be locked into something that isn’t necessarily division-appropriate just because one division used the system first. We average grades differently and we may even eventually want to use the system differently in the Upper School. And it’s entirely appropriate for divisions to handle things like this differently.

    2. Wiggle-room in averages is extremely important. We should be able to override any computer-generated average. Apparently we will, but it’s so important to me I thought I’d mention it anyway. 🙂

    3. Bob & Jim are right. We would need to add in the exam percentage for each semester average, and the AP exam percentage is higher than the regular class percentage.

  6. I have got to agree with Bob Warzeski and Jim Marsalis. Unless there is an additional step we can add to take the “raw” semester average and apply the exam weighting facts done in the Upper School, I don’t see how a “one size fits all” will work.

  7. Given the differences between the three divisions of the school, it must be user defined! Great software must allow for flexibility among users.

  8. It would be easier for Middle School if we had the formulas for 1st and 2nd semester and final grade already entered into the system. It’s not difficult to “fool” the software into performing the calculations for you, it’s just time consuming.

  9. I am caught in the middle. Two of my courses are handled like upper school where the exam is figured into the semester average along with the two quarter grades and the other courses have the exam figured into the 4th quarter average. I am for whatever allows me this flexibility. I would also like the grading scale to have an 89.5 be an A-, a 69.5 a C- etc. At this point, I manually override the letter grade myself. It is not that much trouble, but I worry that I might overlook a letter grade change from time to time.

  10. I was wondering if the same problem might exist with exams. If a course does not have an exam, or allows for exemptions, then we have to have a way to accomodate those needs. that would mean that a different formula would be used for exempt and non-exempt students in the same course.

    When looking at GPA stuff a few years ago, I noticed that Balckbaud has some sort of crappy programming language for setting that up. If so, can we use that with some “if..then” type statements to make the program recognize what it is dealing with and respond accordingly.

    The more I think about it, the more shocked I am that we have this problem. It is amazing that such widely used solftware does not have more flexibility. it’s not like it’s a difficult thing to program.

    Grumpy Old Man

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