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Grading Software

Grading software has been around for several years. The early programs were uncomplicated databases, with a student's name, a place for grades, and simple calculators to figure test scores and averages. Today, software has become much easier to use and more sophisticated. Some typical grading software solutions are listed below:

1st Class Grade Book This program was developed "by teachers for teachers." You can download a free trial copy to try out before spending money on the program. The program even offers a version in Chinese!

AutoGrade This easy-to-learn program stores information for up to ten classes with 50 students each. You can send e-mail progress reports directly from the program. Download a free trial from the site, and view a sample program screen.

Class Action Gradebook You can use a "wizard" to help set up this grade book! The software calculates grading curves and drops low scores. You can print reports in English or Spanish!

ClassBuilder This free program is a grade book, a lesson planner, and a lot more. Teachers can create tests, assignments, reports, and a calendar with this program. Interested teachers can view sample screens at the Web site too.

Class Mate Grading Tools This software received a five-star rating from ZDNet. Organize seating charts and choose from many grading options -- including dropping a grade, assignment point weighting, and weighting grades. Teachers can view sample reports and download the program online.

ClassRoom Portals Teachers can download a free version of this program or buy the "pro" version, which costs $19.95 to register. Two teachers who wanted an online grade book that looked like a regular grade book developed the program. They developed a "wizard" to lead users through the process of creating class records. The Web site provides samples of all the screens, so teachers can see what the screens will look like on their computers.

Excel-lent Gradebook For teachers who already keep grades in Microsoft Excel but would like more features, this program offers a good option. It runs inside Excel, so those files are compatible. Teachers can e-mail grades to students and parents.

E-Z Grader E-Z Grader offers several different software packages for different grading options. One software option lets teachers keep grades and create lesson plans with the same package. A Spanish version is also available.

Grade Genie! Using this program, you can cut and paste grades from a database or a spreadsheet. If you keep grades in a spreadsheet now, this software can save a lot of re-entering.

Grade Machine Teachers who are interested in posting grades online can do so with Grade Machine. They can also scan grades or other information into the program. Users can subscribe to a newsletter to keep abreast of the latest versions and to receive valuable tips and tricks for using the program most effectively.

1st Class GradeBook This program is free, but the providers recommend registering it if you are worried about security issues. You can view a sample screen on the Web site.

MyGradebook.com This free grading software allows parents to check their children's grades through a secure online site. Teachers can also e-mail parents about their children's progress.

Online School Reports.com Instead of keeping grades on their computers, teachers can register with this service and keep them online. Students and parents have limited access to grades at any time.

VAR Grade VARed Software offers two versions of grading software, one for Windows 3.1 and the other for Windows 95, 98, 2000, or NT. The number of records teachers can keep is just about unlimited. The program recognizes database records and is Internet-enabled.

Essay Evaluation Tools

PEG - PEG grades essays predominantly on the basis of writing quality. The underlying theory is that there are intrinsic qualities to a person's writing style called trins that need to be measured, analogous to true scores in measurement theory. PEG uses approximations of these variables, called proxes, to measure these underlying traits. Specific attributes of writing style, such as average word length, number of semicolons, and word rarity are examples of proxes that can be measured directly by PEG to generate a grade. For a given sample of essays, human raters grade a large number of essays (100 to 400), and determine values for up to 30 proxes. The grades are then entered as the criterion variable in a regression equation with all of the proxes as predictors, and beta weights are computed for each predictor. For the remaining unscored essays, the values of the proxes are found, and those values are then weighted by the betas from the initial analysis to calculate a score for the essay.

IEA - First patented in 1989, IEA was designed for indexing documents for information retrieval. The underlying idea is to identify which of several calibration documents are most similar to the new document based on the most specific (i.e., least frequent) index terms. For essays, the average grade on the most similar calibration documents is assigned as the computer-generated score

With IEA, each calibration document is arranged as a column in a matrix. A list of every relevant content term, defined as a word, sentence, or paragraph, that appears in any of the calibration documents is compiled, and these terms become the matrix rows. The value in a given cell of the matrix is an interaction between the presence of the term in the source and the weight assigned to that term. Terms not present in a source are assigned a cell value of 0 for that column. If a term is present, then the term may be weighted in a variety of ways, including a 1 to indicate that it is present, a tally of the number of times the term appears in the source, or some other weight criterion representative of the importance of the term to the document in which it appears or to the content domain overall.

Each essay to be graded is converted into a column vector, with the essay representing a new source with cell values based on the terms (rows) from the original matrix. A similarity score is then calculated for the essay column vector relative to each column of the rubric matrix. The essay's grade is determined by averaging the similarity scores from a predetermined number of sources with which it is most similar. Their system also provides a great deal of diagnostic and evaluative feedback.

E-rater - The Educational Testing Service's Electronic Essay Rater (e-rater) is a sophisticated "Hybrid Feature Technology" that uses syntactic variety, discourse structure (like PEG) and content analysis (like IEA). To measure syntactic variety, e-rater counts the number of complement, subordinate, infinitive, and relative clause and occurrences of modal verbs (would, could) to calculate ratios of these syntactic features per sentence and per essay. For structure analysis, e-rater uses 60 different features, similar to PEG's proxes.

Other Tools

Rubistar's easy-to-use template helps teachers create curriculum-specific rubrics in a minimum amount of time. The rubrics help define assignment expectations for students and they speed up the marking process for teachers.

This online survey tool provides a way to find out what students, parents, and peers know and think. The survey results arm educators with data to adjust and improve instruction and communication.

This practical Web site turns word lists into customized word search, crossword, and math puzzles. Puzzles can be saved in a "custom account" to be retrieved later.

Teacher Forms and Letters

Downloadable templates are listed in four categories: Discipline, Academic, Communication, and Other.

Laura Chandler's File Cabinet

This site provides a variety of practical forms that can be used in any classroom.

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