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How are grades calculated in a points Gradebook?

Course grade calculations depend on your Gradebook's organization and grade entry setting, points (described here) or percentages:

  • No categories (default) - Each gradebook item is assigned a simple point value. The course grade is determined by the student's total score divided by the total points possible.
  • Categories only - Categories are used to group gradebook items, where items are assigned a simple point or percentage value.  Similar to a gradebook with No categories, the course grade is determined by the student's total score divided by the total points possible. This structure provides the option to drop the lowest grade(s), keep the highest grade(s), or drop the highest grade(s) within a category.
  • Categories & weighting - Items are grouped into categories, where each category is assigned a percentage of the course grade.  The total score of all items in a category will comprise the category's percentage of the course grade. This structure provides the option to drop the lowest grade(s), keep the highest grade(s), or drop the highest grade(s) within a category.

Tip: To award students extra credit points, you can create extra credit items or categories, as described in How does extra credit work in Gradebook?

No categories

In a default gradebook with No categories, course grades are calculated for each student by dividing the sum of their scores received for all graded items by the total points possible for those items.

In the example pictured above, Student Five earned a total of 72 points out of 80 total points possible.  His course grade is 72/80 = 0.90 (90%).

Note: Ungraded items are not included in a student's course grade.  Leaving a grade entry blank reduces the total points possible by the point value of the ungraded item for that student.

In the example pictured above, most students were graded out of 80 total points.  However, Student Three has not received a grade for Homework 2 (10 points possible).  Thus, her course grade is 59/70 = 0.8429 (84.29%).

Categories only

With Categories only, course grades are calculated the same as in a gradebook with No categories (described above). However, if all items in a category have the same total point value, you can automatically drop the lowest or highest grades or keep the highest grades within that category. Dropped grades are omitted from the course grade calculation, and the total points possible in the category are reduced by the point value(s) of the omitted item(s).

By using the Keep Highest option instead of Drop Lowest to drop the lowest grade(s), no grades will be dropped in the category until the number of items kept is exceeded.

See below example calculations when grades in a category are dropped or kept.

Note: You must assign each item to a category for the item to be included in students' course grades.

Grades can only be entered in gradebook items; you cannot enter grades into a category with no items.

Ungraded items are not included in a student's course grade.  Leaving a grade entry blank reduces the total points possible by the point value of the ungraded item for that student.

Categories with Drop Lowest/Highest

Pictured above is a gradebook with two categories: Assignments and Quizzes.  The Assignments category drops the lowest grade, and includes two assignments, each worth 10 points. The Quizzes category includes Quiz 1 (10 points) and Quiz 2 (20 points).  There are 40 points possible because only one assignment and the two quiz grades are included in the course grade calculation.

In our example, Student Five received the following grades:

Assignments:

  • Assignment 1 (10 points)
  • Assignment 2 (8 points) (lowest grade - dropped)

Quizzes:

  • Quiz 1 (9 points)
  • Quiz 2 (19 points)

Since the Assignment 2 grade is dropped for Student Five, his course grade is 95%:

  • 10 + 9 + 19 = 38 points earned
  • 38/40 = 0.95

Categories with Keep Highest

Pictured above is a gradebook with two categories: Assignments and Quizzes.  The Assignments category keeps the two highest grades, and includes three assignments, each worth 10 points. The Quizzes category includes Quiz 1 (10 points) and Quiz 2 (20 points).  There are 50 points possible because only two assignments and the two quiz grades are included in the course grade calculation.

In our example below, we will use the Keep Highest option versus Drop Lowest to show how it  affects Student Five's course grade.  

Before all grades are entered for Student Five - Keep Highest 2 Assignments

Before the third assignment grade is entered, Student Five received the following grades:

Assignments:

  • Assignment 1 (10 points) (1st highest grade - kept)
  • Assignment 2 (8 points) (2nd highest grade - kept)

Quizzes:

  • Quiz 1 (9 points)
  • Quiz 2 (19 points)

No grades are dropped yet because we have used the Keep Highest option, so Student Five's grade is 92%:

  • 10 + 8 + 9 + 19 = 46 points earned
  • 46/50 = 0.92

In comparison, if Drop Lowest were used instead, Student Five's grade would have been calculated as only 36 points earned out of 40 points (95%), as shown in the example above where the lowest grade of two assignments is dropped.

After all grades are entered for Student Five - Keep Highest 2 Assignments

Now we enter the third assignment grade.  The highest two assignment grades are kept, so the lowest assignment grade (Assignment 3) is dropped:

Assignments:

  • Assignment 1 (10 points) (1st highest grade - kept)
  • Assignment 2 (8 points) (2nd highest grade - kept)
  • Assignment 3 (7 points) (lowest grade - dropped)

Quizzes:

  • Quiz 1 (9 points)
  • Quiz 2 (19 points)

Student Five's grade is still 92%:

  • 10 + 8 + 9 + 19 = 46 points earned
  • 46/50 = 0.92

Keeping the highest grades instead of dropping the lowest grades ensures that Student Five's grade is calculated out of the same number of total points (50 points) both before and after entering the third assignment grade.

If the Drop Lowest option had been used instead, the calculated course grade for Student Five would have been calculated out of 40 points before entering the third assignment grade.  The course grade would have decreased significantly after the third assignment grade was entered, going from an A (95%) down to an A- (92%).

Categories & Weighting

Use Categories & weighting to group gradebook items into categories, and weight each category as a percentage of the total course grade.  The sum total of all category percentages must equal 100% (or more, if there is an Extra Credit category - for more information, see How does extra credit work in Gradebook?)

For example, if Exams are worth 20% of the course grade, the Exams category (20%) could include a Midterm Exam (50 points) and Final Exam (100 points).

Each student's course grade is the sum of the categories' weighted averages.  See below for additional information about dropping and keeping grades, and example calculations.

Note: You must assign each item to a category for the item to be included in students' course grades.

Grades can only be entered in gradebook items; you cannot enter grades into a category with no items.

Ungraded items are not included in a student's course grade.  If any grade entry is left blank, the total points possible within the category are reduced by the point value(s) of the ungraded item(s) for that student.

Dropping and keeping grades

If all items in a category have the same total point value, you can automatically drop the lowest or highest grades or keep the highest grades within that category. Dropped grades are omitted from the course grade calculation, and the total points possible in the category are reduced by the point value(s) of the omitted item(s).

By using the Keep Highest option instead of Drop Lowest to drop the lowest grade(s), no grades will be dropped in the category until the number of items kept is exceeded.

For more information on dropping and keeping grades, see the sections above: Categories with Drop Lowest/Highest and Categories with Keep Highest.

Categories & Weighting - Example Calculations

Below is an example of how a Gradebook with three weighted categories, Exams (20%), Assignments (40%), and Quizzes (40%), would calculate a student's grade.

The Gradebook calculates the weighted average in each category by:

  1. Totaling the student's scores for all graded items in the category.

    In the example pictured above, in Exams, Student One earned: Final Exam (95 points) + Midterm Exam (40 points) = 135 points.
  2. Totaling the point values for all graded items in the category.

    Final Exam (95 points) + Midterm Exam (40 points) = 150 total points.
  3. Dividing the student's score by the total points, then multiplying that number by 100, to determine the category average:

    Student One's category average in Exams is 90%:
    • 135/150 = 0.90
    • 0.90 x 100 = 90%
  4. Applying the weight to the category average.

    Because the Exams category is worth 20% of the course grade, Student One's weighted average is 18:
    • To get 20% of a number, multiply the number by 0.2.
    • 90 x 0.2 = 18

Tip: The category average is shown in a column to the right of the gradebook items in that category.

The Gradebook totals the weighted averages to produce the course grade.

If Student One received a category average of 75% for Assignments and 85% for Quizzes, his course grade is 82%, calculated as follows:

  • Exams (20%) weighted average (shown above) = 18
  • Assignments (40%) weighted average = 0.4 x 75 = 30
  • Quizzes (40%) weighted average = 0.4 x 85 = 34
  • Course Grade = 18 + 30 + 34 = 82