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.
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.
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.