The Guide to Grading Set-Up

Manager Edition

  • Introduction

    Throughout this guide, you will explore the steps required to prepare grades for an upcoming school year. The guide will lightly explore each step in preferred order and rely on existing documentation to elaborate upon each step.

    Schools may not follow every single step in this guide as stringently as others depending on their grading structures. For example, if a school does not use numeric, percent-based grades, and instead opts for more a skill-focused system, then they will need only part of this guide. It is still suggested you read through each piece in a linear manner to ensure the relationship between each area is understood.

    Upon this guide's completion, the user should be equipped to establish grades and confidently make decisions regarding that process going forward.

    Note: Always work alongside your onRecord Software Consultant before making drastic changes to your school's grading setup if you are unsure of the results.

  • Establishing a Grading Foundation

    Grade Translations

    Grade Translations are your grades (A+, B+, C, D, etc) and the criteria associated with each grade for use in GPA calculations.

    If your school does not use GPA calculations or a numeric grading schema, then Grade Translations can be used to describe skills (Exemplary, Satisfactory, Improving, etc).

    Courses rely on Grade Translations to determine what grade options are available and what those grade options equate to.

    Grade Translations are tied to Grade Categories and allow grading managers to determine whether a teacher records a raw score or sees a Grade label. They also determine whether the raw score or grade label will appear on the report card or transcripts.

    Grade Translations are largely comprised of the following parts:

    Grade Labels are used to associate grade values with a recognizable term. Grade Labels or Abbreviations can appear on report cards and transcripts in place of a numeric grade.

    When a student's grade average for a course falls between a specified range, then they can be awarded the respective grade. Otherwise, a teacher will be able to select the Grade Label.

    When a respective grade is awarded, both GPA Equivalent values can be used in a GPA calculation formula.

    Standard Translations

    Standard Grade Translations are used to define the scores achieved by your students for use in GPA calculations, whether credit is awarded, and visually represent them on report cards and transcripts.

    If your school offers courses that require different grading scales (Honors, AP), then you only need one Grade Translation table if the GPA Equivalent trend is consistent between grades.

    If your school weighs certain classes when calculating the GPA, the weight can either be applied at the course level if it's consistent across the board (I.e. AP classes get a GPA bump of 1 point and honors classes get a bump of .5 points) or at the translation level if it is not consistent (I.e. AP classes get a bump of 1.0 as long as a student earns a C or above). In the latter scenario, create a Grade Translation for each scaling difference.

    Assessment Translations

    Grade Translations can also apply to non-numeric grades and accommodate for skill-focused grading needs typical of Lower or Elementary school levels.

    Grade Labels in this instance are phrases that can be associated with skills to define student performance.

    Create an Assessment Grade Translation table for each unique instance of grading requirements. If different Assessment courses require different sets of Grade Labels to describe the grade, then create a Grade Translation table for each instance.

    Alternate Grades

    There may be instances where a student withdraws from a course and is unable to complete it. In these alternate instances, your school may deem it inappropriate to assign a grade point calculation value to a grade.

    Add Alternate Grades to existing Standard or Assessment-focused Grade Translation tables. By doing so, a teacher will be able to easily select W (for Withdraw) or ML (for Medical Leave) when recording grades.

    Alternate Grades are best used if teachers record letter grades and display letter grades on report cards.

    Read More about Grade Translations

    Grade Categories

    Grade Categories are used to determine how your Grade Translations appear on report cards. In addition, they allow teachers to add comments onto a progress report or report card.

    Grade Categories are linked to courses through Grade Plans, and thus the Grade Plan Group containing the Grade Plan.

    Create a Grade Category for each Grade Translation table. There should be a 1:1 relationship between Grade Translation tables and Grade Categories.

    For Grades

    • To display a letter grade (A, B, C, etc.) or assessment grade label (+, -, etc.) on the report card:

      Enable Translate Score on Output. Otherwise, the Numeric Equivalent (or Max if there is no Numeric Equivalent will display). If BOTH Input and Output options are off, then the raw grade appears on report cards.

    • For Assessment Grading, the Abbrevation will appear instead of the Grade label.

    • To have teachers access a drop-down consisting of Grade Labels when recording grades:

      Enable Translate Score on Input. Otherwise, they will enter a numeric grade.

      Selecting this option will allow teachers to select Alternate Grades for students when they submit recorded grades at the end of a grading period.

    For Comments

    Grade Categories can be used to collect comments from teachers. Comments can appear on report cards. Comment Grade Categories do not need a translation table associated with them.

    Create one Grade Category called Comments if you record comments; the Comments Grade Category can be used across multiple Grade Plans.

    If your teachers copy and paste comments, then ensure Plaintext is selected for Comment Editor.

    Read More about Grade Categories

    Transcript Categories

    Transcript Categories allow you to take courses grouped by a common factor, and then use those categories to determine how they are arranged on a transcript.

    Visual Arts, World Languages, English, History, and so forth, are examples of categories you will place courses in.

    Transcript Categories also allows for credit calculation for a certain subject (ex. how many English credits does a student have?). 9 total categories can fit on a transcript.

    Create a Transcript Category for each course category.

    Transcript Categories will also determine the order in which courses appear on transcripts, and on hybrid and standard report cards.

    Read More about Transcript Categories
  • Assessment Set-Up

    Assessment Grading Periods

    The Assessment Grading Period is the link between the grades you record in courses and the report card itself. When creating an Assessment Report Card, you will specify an Assessment Grading Period to draw data from.

    Create an Assessment Grading Period for each instance during the semester where Assessment report cards are issued; if you issue Assessment Report Cards once a quarter, and you have four quarters in a school year, then create four Assessment Grading Periods

    However, if you have Assessment Report Cards with different header and footer text (for example, if Grade 1 and Grade 2 use different Grade Translations, resulting in different headers), then you will need an Assessment Grading Period for each instance.

    Additionally, if your school wants to include Q1 grades, but not Q1 comments on their Q2 report cards, then they would need to create both a Q1 and Q1 comment Assessment Grading Period.

    Assessment Report Cards contrast with Standard Report Cards in that they are used to display skill-focused grades, and not numeric-focused grades.

    Assessment Grading Periods are tied to Grade Plans, which are explored in a later step. Grade Plans allow you to determine the periods when grades are recorded and the specific grades you are capturing.

    Read More about Assessment Grading Periods

    Assessment Skills

    Assessment Skills are qualitative methods of assessing a student. Each Assessment Skill is a phrase to describe an area of potential growth.

    Consider the following examples of Assessment Skills:

    Social Skills

    • Abides by classroom rules
    • Collaborates with students on group projects
    • Considerate of others

    Literature Skills

    • Identifies critical themes
    • Articulates thoughts coherently
    • Clearly reads aloud in class

    Fitness/PE Skills

    • Cardiovascular Endurance
    • Cooperates in team activities
    • Reached Fitness Goals

    Assessment Skills can be used on multiple Grade Plans; Settings > Assessment Skills is a master list of all of the skills for all grade plans at the school (regardless of school level/grade).

    Create Assessment Skills to describe every skill-based metric required from your courses.

    Read More about Assessment Skills
  • Setting up Your School Year

    Now we need to set up the periods throughout your school year where grading takes place. By this point you must consider the following organizational questions:

    • How many times per year do teachers grade?

    • During each grading period, will I need progress reports? A report card?

    • At what point in the semester will grades be used to award credit?

    • What types of information should I be collecting for each grading period? Do I collect only grades, or do I want teacher comments, too?

    These questions are explored across the following areas:

    Grade Plan Groups

    Grade plan groups are used to link courses with grade plans. A grade plan group can contain several grade plans. Grade plan groups must either be defined as standard (typically used for letter/effort grades and comments) or assessment (typically used for skill-based grading and comments). Each class can be attached to one standard grade plan and one assessment grade plan if your school uses a hybrid report card.

    Create Grade Plan Groups based on the needs of courses. For example, if a set of courses require a different grading scale than a standard set (ex. AP/Honors), you would need to create Grade Plan Groups to accommodate for each course type.

    Create Grade Plan Groups

    Grade Plans

    Grade Plans are the periods during a school year where grading takes place. They are effectively time-sensitive buckets that teachers drop grades into.

    Create a Grade Plan for each period when you want teachers to record grades specific to a term. Examples of grading periods could be Q1 Report Card, Q1 Progress Report, Tri 2 Report Card, and so forth.

    Create Grade Plans

    Grade Plan Grades

    Grade Plan Grades are what you allow teachers to record for that period, whether that be a comment or a standard grade. If Grade Plans are akin to buckets, then Grade Plan Grades are the contents of those buckets.

    Grade Plan Grades are linked to your Grade Categories and, therefore, your Grade Translations, are added to report cards and transcripts.

    Create Grade Plan Grades

    Grade Plan Groups: Assessment vs Standard

    There are two categories of Grade Plan Groups: Assessment and Standard. Each type has a different purpose for associating a different set of information with a course. Grade Plan Groups are unique to School Level; you cannot associate a Middle School Grade Plan Group with Upper School courses.


    Used to associate letter, numeric-based grades with a course. Only Standard Grade Plan Groups will contribute to GPA calculation. Linked with standard, AP, and honors courses.


    Used to associate Assessment Skills (i.e. Working with others) with Grade Translations. Does not contribute to GPA calculation. Linked, often, with Lower School courses.

    Creating Grade Plan Groups (Standard)

    Create a Grade Plan Group for each instance where a course requires unique grading parameters. For example, if all your Upper School courses use the same Grade Translation table for determining letter grades, then create one Grade Plan Group.

    • If you have Elementary or Middle School level courses, then create Grade Plan Groups for each School Level.

    • If you offer courses that operate on a different grading scale (AP, Honors, University of California GPA calculations), then create a Grade Plan Group to accommodate for these types.

    • If your school records Final Grades, and offers both single-term and multi-term courses, then create Grade Plan Groups for both Multi-term and Single Term courses.

    For example, if you offered Honors and Standard courses, and each of those course types use a different Grade Translation table, and are segmented into Multi-term and Single-term courses, then you would need 4 Standard Grade Plan Groups: Single-term Honors, Single-Term Standard, Multi-term Honors, Multi-term Standard.

    Read More about Grade Plan Groups

    Creating Grade Plan Groups (Assessment)

    Create a Grade Plan Group for each instance where a course requires unique grading parameters.

    • For example, Grades 1, 2, 3, and 4 in your Elementary School may be graded on a different set of skills than one another. As such, you would create four Assessment Grade Plan Groups (one for each grade level).

    • In addition, you may create Grade Plan Groups for each subject area within a grade. If Grade 1 has different types of courses that require different sets of skills, then create a Grade Plan Group for each of these areas. For example, Grade 1 Visual Arts might differ from Grade 1 Music and require Grade Plan Groups with Assessment Skills matched with each of those areas.

    Read More about Grade Plan Groups

    Grade Plans: Your Grading Periods

    Create a Grade Plan for each period when grading occurs.

    For example, assume you have two semesters throughout your school year. During those two semesters, you may have four quarters. Within those four quarters, you may record grades for a progress report and then a report card.

    To follow the above example, we would need 8 Grade Plans added to the Grade Plan Group where grades are collected.

    The Grade Plans for Semester Term 1 and 2 can be created to calculate the End of Term grade, which is the appropriation of credits and the calculation of GPAs based on grades within that term.

    Read More about Grade Plans

    Grade Plan Grades: The Information You Collect

    Grade Plan Grades are the links to the Grade Categories/Translation you created. Grade Plan Grades are what teachers record – both grades and comments. Grade Plan Grades are tied back to the Grade Categories created earlier in the setup.

    Grade Plan Grades are added directly into Grade Plans; The Grade Plan determines when a teacher has access to recording grades, and the Grade Plan Grade determines what exactly is being recorded.

    Read More about Grade Plan Grades

    Grade Plan Grade Formulas

    Grade Plan Grades can pull from other Grade Plan Grades when calculating a grade. For example, if a teacher records a numeric final exam grade in the Grade Plan, that grade can be factored into the final grade calculation.

    Additionally, Grade Plan Grades can draw from the Grade Book Cumulative of each course. This allows teachers to neatly and uniformly apply grades based on a formula determined by the Grading Manager.

    For example, if final exams count as 20% of the semester grade, you can add the final exam as a numeric Grade Plan Grade and create a formula which pulls 80% from the grade book cumulative and 20% from the exam grade. If some teachers do not give a final exam, you can make the exam grade optional in the Grade Plan and the formula will ignore the grade if it is blank – leaving 100% of the semester grade pulling from the grade book. If some departments or teachers use different formulas when calculating the semester exam you can add multiple formulas to account for those differences. You might end up with a formula that factors in the exam grade as 15% or 25%. If you do not enter a formula teachers will be able to create their own formulas; they cannot do this if a formula has been created by the Grading Manager.

    Create Grade Plan Grade Formulas

    End of Term and Final Grades

    Grade Plan Grades can either be marked as End of Term or Final in Grade Plans that have End of Term enabled. All schools will use Term Grades if credit is awarded.

    For schools that record Final Grades:

    • Single term courses credits are calculated using term grades.

    • Multi-term courses credits are calculated using term grades.

    • The credit for term grades can be used to calculate a GPA using the final grade instead of term grades.

    • Credits will not display on a transcript until the Final grade is recorded

    For schools that do not record Final Grades, the End of Term grade is still when both single and multi-term courses calculate and award credits.

    Assessment Skills

    Assessment Skills are what Assessment Grade Plans rely on to determine what skills are associated with courses. They are structured in the same manner as Grade Plan Grades in that they rely on Grade Categories to determine what grading scale is associated with each skill, and that Comment Grade Categories are also required to add comments.

    However, when you add an Assessment Skill to a Grade Plan, you assign it to a category; an assessment category contains a similar set of skills for organization purposes when recording grades and when added to report cards. If you create report cards that draw from two grade plans - effectively two grading periods - then the Sort Order of each skill determines how they will appear on the report card.

    You can add an Assessment Category for comments and allow teachers to record comments for the marking period. Add a Comment Grade Category to each Assessment Skill group as needed.

    Learn More about Assessment Skills
  • GPAs, Ranks, and Academic Performance

    Creating Grade Averages

    Creating GPAs is a multistep process.

    Think of the process as revolving around these three components:

    Create Your GPA Formulas

    A formula is an equation used to calculate grade point averages. The formula draws data from several different areas to perform this calculation.

    Pull From Grade Plans

    Courses that are placed within the Grade Plans that you associate your GPA calculation with will follow that formula.

    Determine GPA Types

    Select which GPAs you wish to calculate for. These options can appear on report cards and transcripts.

    Note: A formula can be reused each academic year; this is accomplished by associating the new school year's Grade Plans in the formula.

    Step #1: Formula

    The Formula is the equation used to calculate students' grade point averages.

    Create a formula that follows your criteria for calculating grade averages, noting the following:

    • GPA Equivalent 1 & 2
      relate to the value of the fields belonging to the Grade Translation table of the recorded Grade Plan Grade.

    • Weight & Alt Weight
      set at the course level provide an overall bump to the GPA Equivalent.

    • Grade draws from the Numeric Equivalent of a grade in a corresponding Grade Translation table.

    Create as many formulas match your school's precise needs, such as having them for Quarters, Mid-Year Cumulative, Final GPAs, and so forth. You may also need separate formulas for weighted and unweighted calculations, and term and final. Additional formulas might be needed for academic performance and honor rolls.

    Step 2#: School Years

    Select the School Years you want to include in the GPA calculation. If you want final transfer grades to be included, check the include transfer grades checkbox.

    Step 3#: Grade Plans

    If your Grade Plan Groups are not differentiated by term (for example, multi-term and single-term Grade Plan Groups), then simply select the Grade Plan to be used in determining the GPA for both the Multi-term courses and single-term courses columns. If you'd like to include term transfer grades check the box for Include term transfer grades.

    If you follow a Final Grade setup and have courses that are segmented into Multi-term and Single-term Grade Plan Groups, then you must ensure that you only select a Grade Plan within the corresponding column.

    For example, in the row containing your Multi-term Grade Plan Group, under the Multi-term courses column, select the Grade Plan that contains your Final Grades. Repeat the same steps, but for your Single-term Grade Plan Group next.

    Read More about GPA Calculation Formulas

    Step #4: Types

    Each Type selection will determine what calculates from your formula. Term GPA and Year to Date GPA can both appear on a report card. Cumulative (GPAs across multiple years) and Term GPAs can appear on transcripts.

    Step #5: Excluded Courses

    Excluded Courses are courses that are not included in GPA calculations. Study halls and Homerooms, for example, may fit into this category.

    Courses do not need to be excluded if they are not in a Grade Plan selected in the previous step.

    Ranks & Academic Performance

    Ranks & Academic Performance rely on the formulas that you have established to determine how students rank against one another and if a student is deserving of additional accolades due to excellent performance.

    Note: Ranks can appear on transcripts, and Academic Performance (ex. Honor Roll) can appear on report cards and transcripts.

    Ranks use either the Cumulative, Term, or the Year to Date value calculated using a specified GPA calculation formula to display information on a transcript.

    Final grade schools need different grade average formulas for mid-year vs end-of-year, often because the Semester 1 grade for year-long courses should be counted in the cumulative grade at the mid-year, but only the final at the end-of-the-year.

    Academic Performance

    Step #1:

    Academic Performance can be used to compare students' grade averages against a metric you define. The outcome can range anywhere from a list of Probation-ranked students to assessing Honor Roll worthiness.

    You can associate similar Academic Performance measurements with one another. For example, President's List and Honor Roll can be subcategories within the same category, because they similarly reward success.

    The priority will determine which Academic Performance measurement is used if a student meets more than one requirement. In this example, a student would receive the Principal’s List designation if they met that requirement because of its higher priority.

    Step #2:

    Each subcategory must be assigned a means for comparing the GPA with a standard. Select the threshold that should be reached by the student to achieve the academic performance designation.

    In this example, Principal's List is set to a higher threshold requirement. If a student meets that threshold, and because Principal's list has the higher priority, the student will appear on the Principal's List and not the Honor Roll.

    Read More about Academic Performance
  • Linking Courses to Grades

    Linking courses involves associating the Grade Plan Group containing your School Year Setup with a course. Once a course is linked to a Grade Plan Group, teachers will be able to record what has been specified in the Grade Plan that is currently active.

    Step 1: Link Grade Plan Group

    Begin by selecting the Grade Plan Group that contains the Grade Plans, and therefore Grade Plan Grades, that are specific to this course.

    You can associate a course with one Standard and one Assessment Grade Plan Group, allowing for two unique report card representations of performance.

    Step 2: Credit Worth

    Determine how many credits should be awarded for completion of a course.

    If a course is year-long, and therefore spans more than one term, toggle Specify Credit Awarded per Term to award partial credit only if a different credit amount should be awarded each term. Credits must be specified every year in the Offer Courses task.

    Step 3: GPA Weight Determination

    Weight influences GPA calculation. If you offer AP/Honors courses that are graded on the same scale as standard courses (4.0, for example), then give standard courses a weight of 1 and AP/Honors an appropriate bump.

    For example, students might get a .5 bump for AP courses, and a .3 for honors; this can be stored in the GPA Weight/Alt Weight fields in the Course.

    Step 4: Transcript Organization

    Enter an Abbreviation if the Abbreviation of the course should take place of the course name on the transcript. Enter the Transcript Category to determine how the course is organized on the transcript.

    An Abbreviation is best used if the course title is too long and does not appear on transcripts fully.

    Read More about Course Grade Settings
  • Report Cards

    Report Cards illustrate the grades submitted by teachers during a respective grading period. There are three types of report cards:

    • Standard: Contains the Grade Plan Grades belonging to a Grade Plan in a Standard Grade Plan Group. This includes both grades and comments.
    • Assessment: Contains the Assessment Skills and comments from the Grade Plan that belongs to a specified Assessment Grading Period.
    • Hybrid: Contains Assessment Skills and Assessment Comments, and Standard Grades. Does not include Grade Plan Grades that have a Comment Grade Category associated with them.

    Create a Standard Report Card

    Standard Report Cards are used to illustrate grades captured during a respective grading period.

    Create a Report Card for each time you wish to convey grades to students and parents. This also includes each time you issue a Progress Report.

    Example: If you issue a progress report and report card each quarter in a four-quarter school year, you will have eight Report Cards in the system.

    Add Your Grades

    The Report Card Builder uses your established Grade Plan Grades to populate the grades and comments for students. Report Cards are School Level specific, meaning that even if you have courses that occur in different Grade Plan Groups, the Report Card can be set-up to accommodate for all grading scenarios within a School Level that occurred within a specified period.

    Beside each Grade Plan Group listed, and under Grade To Display, select the Grade Plan Grade that contains the grades collected within a Grade Plan's marking period. Select one for each Grade Plan Group as needed.

    If you need to display additional information on Report Cards, such as comments, or grades from other quarters, then create additional columns, and add different Grade Plan Grades that contain the desired data.

    Assessment Report Cards

    Assessment Report Cards encompass all Assessment Skills and comments associated with an Assessment Grading Period.

    Create an Assessment Report Card for each Assessment Grading Period that you wish to generate a report card for.

    Associate an Assessment Grading Period with each report card.

    Read More about Report Cards