Configuring semester and final averages is a three-part process: selecting a calculation method, enabling term average columns, and setting the term average weights. You must first configure these settings in TeacherPlus Management Site before teachers can view and calculate the term averages in their gradebooks. Upon configuring term averages and checking your school's grading policy, you also have the option to give teachers permission to change the term average values set by you.
An Overview of Calculation Methods
There are two calculation methods to choose from: By Grade or By Average. The main difference is that with the By Grade method, a semester or final grade is calculated based on marking period grades and not the marking period averages. Also, because teachers can override marking period grades, using the By Grade method takes into account those overrides because they're made to the marking period grade.
In the following example, let's imagine how each calculation method would affect a school using a letter grade system. First, let's take a look at a custom letter grade scale used to calculate a marking period grade.
There are five grade symbols on this grade scale. Each symbol has a school-defined cut-off value associated with it. This cut-off value is used to determine which grade each student will receive for a marking period. The value is equal to the lowest mathematical average that a student needs to achieve in order to receive that grade.
For example, in order to receive a marking period grade of “E” on this scale, the student must achieve a marking period average between 89.50 and 97.49. This is how the marking period grade is determined. Keep in mind the marking period average comes from all the gradebook score columns of that marking period, which the teacher has chosen to count in the average.
Now, imagine a student has received the following grades for the first two marking periods and that each marking period is weighted equally:
Marking Period | Average of Column Scores | Grade | Teacher Grade Override |
Marking Period 1 | 88 | S | E |
Marking Period 2 | 98 | M | - |
For the first marking period, the student's average was 88, resulting in a grade of S, which the teacher overrode to the higher grade of E. According to the scale above, a student needs at least an average of 89.5 to receive an E, but the teacher decided to give student an E anyway perhaps because the student demonstrated extra effort. Moreover, in the second marking period, the student's average was 98, resulting in a grade of M (no override).
If the school chooses to use the By Average method, only the marking period averages of 88 and 98 would be averaged to arrive at a semester grade, which would be a grade of E, based on an average of 93.
However, if the By Grade method is chosen instead, the semester grade would be an average of the marking period grades E (the overridden grade) and M. Because marking period averages are not considered, TeacherPlus automatically assigns a value to each grade symbol, based on an equidistant grade scale, such as the following:
As a result, the student's first marking period grade of E (a value of 4.00 on the scale) would be averaged with the grade of M (a value of 5.00) from the second marking period. The semester grade comes to M (4.50).
In this scenario, each calculation method results in a different grade, mainly because the grade override was taken into account with the By Grade method, whereas it was ignored when the By Average method was chosen.
Choose a Calculation Method
This setting has enormous consequences for your school and understanding it is crucial. Before proceeding with the following steps, make sure you understand the critical difference in calculation methods explained above.
- Click Grading, and then click Semester and Final Averages.
- Choose one of the following two options:
- Click By Average. This method only looks at the numerical average value of each marking period when calculating a semester or final grade, ignoring any marking period grade overrides.
- Click By Average. This method only looks at the numerical average value of each marking period when calculating a semester or final grade, ignoring any marking period grade overrides.
- Optional: Select the Use Minimum Numeric Value check box, and set the minimum numeric value allowed for averages.
In letter grading schools, a student who receives an “A” in the first marking period and an “F” in the second marking period would have a semester average of a “C.” However, in number grading schools, a student who receives a “100” in the first marking period and a “0” in the second marking period would have a semester average of a “50,” which is still failing.
In order to be more equitable, number grading schools can now set a minimum grade of “50.” This means that the “0” that the above numeric school’s student received in the second marking period would count as a “50,” resulting in a semester average of “75.” This is equivalent to the “C” the letter grading school’s student received for the exact same work.
This option applies whether semester averages are being calculated using the By Average or By Grade settings. The minimum value will also be used for Exam scores. (In the example above, an exam score of 40 would be counted as a 50.) - Optional: Select the Available to Teachers check box for each term available. This check box makes term average columns available to teachers, allowing them to calculate term averages but not necessarily edit the average formulas you've set.
- For each semester/term table, choose one of the following options:
- Option A: Clear the check box Use Combined Marking Periods and enter the average value for each course type relevant to the semester table.
For semester one, a school could have an average of 45 for the first quarter, 45 for the second quarter, and 10 for the midterm exam. Keep in mind that although the average values are ratios and don't have to add up to 100, it may be easier to have them add up to 100 (like in the following illustration).
Depending upon your AdminPlus Report Card settings, you may have the following term tables:
- Semester (one or more): available when SEMESTER is selected as a term type.
- Final grade: available when FINAL is selected as a term type. This table is used to calculate final grades based on the term averages.
Each term table has a Sections column that lists each course type available, ranging from all-year courses to courses that only taken place during a certain quarter or semester. The remaining vertical blue columns refer to marking periods or exams. The column names and their order are based on your AdminPlus Report Card column settings, varying from school to school.
- Option B: Select the check box Use Combined Marking Periods, and then select which marking periods you want to include in the average to calculate a semester grade.
When you select Use Combined Marking Periods option, TeacherPlus takes all the assignments in all of the marking periods you select, including assignment category weights. Then, it averages all of the assignments using the assignment categories weights to arrive at a grade. It's as if all the marking periods selected were combined into one marking period. Also, with this option, the By Average or By Grade method is not taken into account in the term/semester grade calculation.This option can be useful for schools that only report grades every trimester or semester. When it comes time to report progress grades, using this option would combine all of the selected marking periods into one big marking period for the semester grade calculation.
- Option A: Clear the check box Use Combined Marking Periods and enter the average value for each course type relevant to the semester table.
Click Save.
Once you've configured semester and final averages, you can do a term grade audit report to preview how an a term grade has been calculated based on the Management Site settings. To do so, open a teacher's gradebook, locate a semester or final grade column, right-click a student's semester grade, and then click Audit Report.