FAQ: Scores and Standards

How does Easy Grade pro treat blank score cells? How can I easily set all blanks to a certain score?

In Easy Grade Pro, a blank score has no value and is completely ignored when calculations are made. This allows you to add assignments in advance without affecting calculations. It also allows you to add assignments that are not meant for all students. If you set an assignment’s Progress Report option to Include if Student has Score, the assignment won’t even appear in a report until the student has a score. The Show Blanks filter can be used from the View menu to hide all scores except those that are blank. Don’t think that you’ll have to spend a lot of time filling in all the blanks with zeros; the Change Scores tool can easily change all blanks (or just some blanks) to zeros (or something else) with just a few clicks. You can also find the Change Scores tool in the Tool menu.

How is a student's overall grade calculated?

Understanding the math behind the calculations of a student’s overall grade can help you use Easy Grade Pro more effectively. It can also help you explain a student’s grades when asked by an inquisitive parent or student. Two examples will be used to explain the process and both use the following five sample assignments:

Let’s take a close look at this chart. The student is being graded on two quizzes, two homework assignments and one homework assignment with status set to extra credit. On Quiz 1, the teacher set maximum score to 10 and points to 100. The student’s score is 6.5. Easy Grade Pro first calculates percent: (6.5/10)x100 = 65%. It then calculates points earned: 65% of 100 points possible = 65. Take a moment to examine the numbers for the other assignments.
Example 1: When Category Weighting is Off
When category weighting is off, Easy Grade Pro calculates an overall grade by summing the points earned and dividing by the total points possible. Here’s how it does it:
  1. Sum the points earned (last column): 65 + 80 + 50 + 37.5 + 2 = 234.5
  2. Sum the points possible (Points column): 100 + 100 + 50 + 50 = 300
  3. Divide points earned by points possible to get the overall percent: 234.5/300 = 78.17%
Example 2: When Category Weighting is On
In this example, the Quiz category is weighted 30% and Homework is weighted 50%. A third category, Final Exam, is weighted 20% but is not yet being used. When category weighting is used, Easy Grade Pro goes through the calculations in Example 1 for each category. Then it combines the categories using the category weights to calculate the overall percent. It works properly even though not all categories are being used.
1. Sum the points earned (last column):
65 + 80 = 145
50 + 37.5 + 2 = 89.5
2. Sum the points possible:
100 + 100 = 200
50 + 50 = 100
3. Divide to get the category percent:
145/200 = 72.5%
89.5/100 = 89.5%
4. Combine the categories percents using their weights to get the overall percent: ((72.5% x 30%) + (89.5% x 50%)) / (30%+50%) = 83.125%
How an Extra Credit category affects calculations
With Easy Grade Pro, you can add extra credit by increasing a student’s score, by setting the status of an assignment to Extra Credit (illustrated above) and by creating an Extra Credit category in the Class Options window.
When using an extra credit category that is not weighted, Easy Grade Pro will use the assignment’s Maximum Score and Points to calculate the points earned by the student on the extra credit. Then it will follow the steps in Example 1 but ignoring the Points possible on the extra credit assignment in step 2.
When using an extra credit category that is weighted, Easy Grade Pro will follow steps 1 through 3 in Example 2 above to calculate the student’s extra credit category percent. But in step 4, it will exclude the extra credit category when summing the category weights (the part to the right of the division symbol).

Why wasn't the lowest score dropped? Why are fewer scores being dropped for some students?

First of all, Easy Grade Pro only drops scores on assignments with status of Can be Dropped. Choose Assignment from the Chart menu and look in the Status column to check for this.
Next, it drops only one score for a student unless Dropping options have been set in the Class Options window. In this case, up to four scores can be dropped. Choose Class Options from the Edit menu and select the Category tab to check for this.
Finally, Easy Grade Pro does not drop the lowest scores. Rather, it drops the most damaging scores. These are the scores that, when dropped, result in the greatest improvement in the student’s overall percent. For a student who has her lowest score on an assignment with little point value or in a category with little weight, Easy Grade Pro may drop a higher score. For a student who performs well on tests but poorly on homework, the student’s lowest test score may actually be helping to prop up his overall percent; in this case Easy Grade may not drop any test. In all cases, Easy Grade Pro will drop scores or not drop scores to maximize the benefit to the student.

How can I keep my original scores on an assignment that I want to curve?

When an assignment is curved, the original student scores are replaced by curved scores. If you’d like to keep the original scores but not have them impact student grades then try this: 1) Choose Assignment from the Chart menu. 2) Press on the assignment’s row number to select it. 2) Choose Copy from the Edit menu. 3) Choose Paste from the edit menu while the column is still selected. It will become duplicated. 4) In the status column, change the status of the original assignment to Not for Grade. Optional: change the Progress Report option to Exclude Assignment. Be sure to curve the duplicated assignment instead of the original.

How many standards should I add to my class?

It is typical for the lists of standards produced by educational agencies to have literally dozens of standards for a single curriculum area at a single grade level. Although, Easy Grade Pro has been designed to accommodate these long lists, we recommend that you actually report on no more than a dozen standards. Otherwise, the effort and time required may become overwhelming. Students and parents may become overwhelmed as well. Notice the emphasis on the word report. It is possible to have standards in a class that are used for scoring but not for reporting. For example, if you have 36 standards with six at a highest level, each with six linked, lower-level standards, you can use the 30 lower-level standards for scoring but the six higher-level standards for reporting. You may end up with only a few scores on each of the 30 lower-level standards but these can produce very meaningful data on the six standards that get reported. You decide!

What is the Power Law Formula for standards-based grading?

An internet search for “Power Law Formula” results in hundreds of listings in a wide variety of fields including astronomy, meteorology, and engineering. In his highly regarded book TRANSFORMING CLASSROOM GRADING, Robert J. Marzano describes the use of this formula for standards-based grading. The math behind the power law formula is quite complex (see below), but all that’s necessary for its use is that you know what it does, how to interpret its scores, and when best to use it.
In essence, the power law formula predicts what the student’s next score will be based on scores already present. It can be thought of as a mathematical calculation that answers the question: “If the student were assessed right now on a skill, at what level would the student likely perform?” Since a student’s grade on a standard is meant to be an indication of skill at a certain moment in time, the power law formula can be used to calculate standard grades.
To gain an understanding of how the power law works, let’s look at sets of student scores and Easy Grade Pro’s power law calculation of each set. To keep things simple, let’s say there are four assessments and four students and each student has earned the same scores 1.00, 2.00, 3.00 and 4.00, but in a different order. If we were to simply average the four scores, all students would receive a 2.50. However, with the power law, we’ll get different values because the power law puts more weight on recent assessments. Let’s take a look:
Assessment #1
(least weight)
Assessment #2
Assessment #3
Assessment #4
(greatest weight)
Power Law Score
Student #1
The scores show continuous improvement. The student will likely demonstrate mastery on the next assessment.
Student #2
The scores show irregular improvement. The student will likely demonstrate high but not complete mastery on the next assessment.
Student #3
The scores show very uneven performance. The student will likely demonstrate a mid-level of achievement on the next assessment.
Student #4
The scores show continuous decline. The student will likely demonstrate a low level of achievement on the next assessment.

As you can see, the power law formula can result in more meaningful values than averaging. Should it then always be used? No! The power law formula is best used on narrowly defined standards (i.e. Subtraction of mixed numbers with borrowing). Avoid its use with broadly written standards that consist of multiple skills – the results will be less meaningful.
For those with the inclination, here’s the power law formula used by Easy Grade Pro where x is the ordinal number of the score, s is the score and N is the number of scores with all scores in date order:

Why does the Find window keep popping up when I enter a score?

This window will reappear whenever a score is entered if the Use Continuous Search mode is turned on. This mode allows you to quickly enter scores directly from student papers. The next time the Find window opens, turn this option off.

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