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How does the Gradebook work?

The Gradebook calculates students’ progress grades automatically, based on the grades you enter for assignments and other activities. Here’s an overview of how it works.

your grading breakdown

The Gradebook is based on the grading breakdown that your department has specified for your course. This is a list of weighted categories that define what will be graded and how much each element counts toward the overall course grade. You can see the grading breakdown for your class on the Course Home / Syllabus page, under the "Grading" tab.

Key Points to Remember

  • Every category in the breakdown must have at least one graded item associated with it.
  • Every item within a category carries the same weight.
  • Every category has a grade scale (letter grade OR percentage OR credit/no credit) associated with it.
  • Every item in a category will be graded using the same grade scale.

graded topics

Every item for which the instructor must enter a grade is represented by a graded topic in the discussion. A graded topic is simply a topic that includes an interface for entering grades.

The grades you enter — for assignments and exercises, and other tasks, as well as for intangibles like participation — will be automatically included in the Gradebook.

Progress grade calculation

The Gradebook will calculate quarterly progress grades, based on the grades you enter, as well as the scores for items that are scored automatically by the online learning system, such as tests and progress questions. When it comes time to post progress grades, you’ll see the grades calculated by the online learning system, which you can then assign or amend, as you see fit. Details of how each student’s progress grade was calculated can be displayed on demand.

What do I need to know about the grading breakdown for my class?


The course grading breakdown defines the relative weights of graded tasks and activities in a course.

  • Each graded task and activity is assigned a grading category.
  • Each grading category is assigned a percentage of the overall course grade.
  • Common grading categories include: Assignments, Exercises, Exam(s), Progress Questions, Participation and Discussion.
  • All the graded tasks and activities within a category have equal weight.

For example, if exercises are worth 20% of the course grade, and there are 5 exercises in the class, then each exercise is worth 4% of the course grade. If you add five more exercises — making 10 in all — each exercise will now be worth 2% of the course grade… and so on. The Gradebook automatically updates the math to take such changes into account.

The grading breakdown for your class was set by your department when the course was created. It represents a contract with your students and cannot be changed once students have access to the class (i.e., two weeks before the semester begins).

Most graded activity will be graded by you, the instructor, and you will do this in a graded topic. (Learn more: Setting Up Topics for Grading) Online classes will likely also include some categories of graded activity that are scored automatically by the online learning system (e.g., quizzes, exams, or graded progress questions).

Review the grading breakdown for your class

Go to the Course Home & Syllabus page. (Click the link to the "Syllabus & Supply List" for the relevant class on your Home page, and then choose the Grading tab.)

You’ll find a list of the various categories and percentages, along with a pie chart depicting this same information.

to which category does a topic belong?

The category for a graded topic is prefixed to its title. Check the Outline or the main Discussion page to see these.

How do the various grade scales work?

Grade Scales in the Gradebook

The Academy’s Gradebook offers three grade scales: letter grades, percentages, and credit/no credit. The grading breakdown sets the grade scale for each category of work in a course, and the same scale will be used to grade all work in a given category.

Letter Grades vs. Percentages

The main difference between these grade scales is what the student sees:

  • If the letter grade scale is specified, the student will see only his letter grade.
  • However, if the scale is set to percentages, the student will see both his letter grade and the percentage.

Aside from this, letter grades and percentages are mostly interchangeable.

Each letter grade is associated with
a default percentage.

Similarly, a range of percentages is
associated with each letter grade.

Letter Grade

Default Percentage

Percentage Range

Letter Grade





































As you can see, some of the default percentages fall in the middle of the range, while others are at the top or bottom of the range.

Key Points to Remember

Whether your grade scale uses letter grades or percentages...

  • You always can enter your grades as either letters or percentages: both options will be available to you.
  • You can fine-tune your grading by adjusting the percentage. For example, if a student turned in outstanding work, you might want to give him 98% or 100% — instead of the default for an A, which is 95%.
  • The main difference between these grade scales is what the student sees.

Credit / No Credit grading

Credit / No Credit grading is an all-or-nothing proposition:

  • When a student completes the work for a CR / NC assignment, she receives full credit for that assignment. In terms of percentages, credit equals 100%.
  • If the student does not complete the work for a CR / NC assignment, she receives no credit. No credit equals 0%.

So if your class has a category in the grading breakdown that is scored Credit / No Credit, each gradable element in that category will earn the student either 100% or 0%. Then, all the grades for that category are averaged together into an overall grade for that category. So, for example, if there are four CR / NC assignments in a category and a student gets Credit for three of those and No Credit for one, then her overall grade for that category would be 75% — or a C.

It’s important to consider carefully whether Credit / No Credit grading is the most appropriate choice for the various categories of work in your class. While this grade scale can simplify grading for the instructor, having too many categories graded Credit / No Credit might lead to grade inflation. If you have concerns about the grade scales in your class, talk with your director about possible adjustments.

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