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Paper Versus Electronic
Many school districts now require teachers to enter their grades online in a program that manages gradebooks. Although teachers keep their grades in an electronic format, many school districts still require their teachers to maintain a paper gradebook, which is generally considered the legal, accurate document in a court of law.
There are software programs that school districts can buy, but such programs tend to be rather expensive. Some school districts have a computer department in-house, and generally, there is a programmer on staff who has the knowledge and ability to write a gradebook program. When a gradebook program is written specifically for a certain school district, this is beneficial as the program is tailored to the needs of the teachers in that particular district.
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The Pros of Entering Grades Online
There are many benefits of using online gradebooks:
- Parents can see the grades online, which means (theoretically) that parents will not call teachers constantly wanting to know his/her student's average.
- Teachers can write comments for parents to view.
- Accessible from any computer...on campus or off campus, so many find such programs extremely convenient.
- Parents usually view their student's grades and discipline activity online.
- In some programs, parents can update their contact information.
- Parents can view lesson plans to see what upcoming tests and assignments his/her student has due in the coming days.
- Easily organizes grades for teachers to view, and some programs let teachers know if they have forgotten to key in assignments or what "late assignments" are due.
- Such programs automatically compute averages.
- Grades are accurate as human error is no longer part of the equation, as long as teachers key in the correct grades.
- Teachers can key in grades from home.
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Cautions About Limitations
- Parents and students demand to know their grades shortly after an assessment is given.
- Administrators have access to electronic grade books and know what teachers have keyed in grades and what teachers have not keyed in grades.
- Students will stay on a teacher's case about keying in their makeup work.
- As with technology, reliability of the internet is a factor. If the Internet at one's school is not reliable, such programs may be difficult to use.
- Schools have to invest money in computer servers to back up and store such data.
- Security is an issue. Such programs need to be secure so that hackers cannot see the stored data. Students will attempt to steal teacher's passwords and hack into such programs.