Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tuesday Tech Tip: Grading Terms & Grade Setup in Schoology

Most of our secondary schools in CCSD will start 2nd semester this week, so we thought it would be a good time to post some information and reminders about using grading terms and the gradebook in Schoology.

Our courses are created by a sync with PowerSchool, and while that may impact the default grading term for assignments and the gradebook in Schoology, we can customize how information appears, is filtered in Schoology, and pushed to PowerSchool.

Grade Setup in Schoology

Because PowerSchool holds the official grades in our district, it's a good idea to go into the Grade Setup in Schoology to adjust a few settings (visible when you click on "Gradebook" in the left navigation).   The most important thing to change here is the way calculated grades appear to students (and parents).  Checking the boxes for "Hide overall grade" and "Hide grading period grades" provides students with feedback for assignments but doesn't show a final grade column.  This minimizes potential confusion for student and parents since Schoology's final grade may or may not match what PowerSchool shows as a cumulative grade.

The Grade Setup area is also where you can create assignment categories in Schoology, either for customized syncing with PowerSchool or for filtering assignment and achievement data in Schoology.  This is also where you can create "permanent" rubrics, although these cannot currently be aligned to standards or learning outcomes for Mastery reports.

Grading Periods/Terms in Schoology

In our district, Schoology assigns a default grading period for assignments based on the grading term provided by PowerSchool.  So, a course that has a 2014-2015 grading term in PowerSchool defaults to a 2014-2015 grading period in Schoology; however, most teachers divide assignments and grades into smaller terms, like semesters, quarters, or trimesters.  

If you prefer to have assignments categorized into smaller grading terms, use the Period pull-down in the assignment settings to choose the correct grading period (click "Grading options" if you don't see the pull-down).  This lets you filter the Schoology gradebook based on different grading terms. 

This does not affect the PowerSchool gradebook as assignments are placed into a term based on the assignment due date.  Assignments without a due date will land on the last day of the grading term in PowerSchool's gradebook (i.e. June 2, 2015 for year-long courses).

Bulk Editing Assignments in Schoology

If you already have assignments in the Schoology gradebook and you want to adjust the grading period, you can use the "bulk edit" feature to see the list of existing assignments in Schoology.  Not only can you change the grading period, but you can also shift due dates, change grading scales, edit the category, and rename.  This is also where you can choose to "unpublish" an assignment -- the grades and other information remain visible to you but are hidden from students and parents (helpful for diagnostic assignments or items for your feedback only).

Customizing PowerSchool's Syncing Configuration 

If you are using PowerSchool's gradebook in our district, grades entered into Schoology push over to PowerSchool in the "Homework" category by default. You can, though, customize how Schoology's categories sync to PowerSchool if you'd rather have finer-grained control.

Click on the PowerSchool option in the left navigation when in a course.  Under the "Customization" tab, you can check the box to "Categorize grade category mapping."  This gives you the option to either not sync specific Schoology categories or sync to the 4 default assignment categories in PowerSchool (Homework, Quiz, Test, and Project).  Categories need to exist in Schoology's Grade Setup prior to this step.  Using the pull-downs, choose the Schoology categories that will match with the PowerSchool categories (you can have more than 1 Schoology category linked to any default PowerSchool category).  Any Schoology category not mapped here will not sync to PowerSchool (which might be a great option for formative assessments).  

Finally, remember that you can also hide folders and items in your courses.  If you teach a year-long course and are entering a new segment (like semester 2 or another trimester), it might be a good idea to hide earlier folders and items to minimize confusion for students and parents.

For more information on Schoology's gradebook, please see Schoology's Help Center article.  For information on syncing with PowerSchool, see this article from Schoology's Help Center.

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