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Ask Slashdot: Open Source Software To Manage Student Grades? 120

Posted by timothy
from the vi-is-all-you-need dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I have been assigned the task of finding a software package to automate the management of grades in a high school. It does not need to be a complete system, but rather just manage grading calculations and printing of report cards. The management of grades is currently done using spreadsheets. What are some open source options to handle this situation?"
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Ask Slashdot: Open Source Software To Manage Student Grades?

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  • Moodle. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @09:08AM (#40983391)

    Moodle has a grade management tool that might be able to handle these requirements.

    • Re:Moodle. (Score:5, Informative)

      by MoonBuggy (611105) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @09:50AM (#40983879) Journal

      My kingdom for a mod-point. Moodle is designed to do exactly what you ask - it's admittedly not the absolute best piece of software I've ever used, and there are a few rough edges, but it does its job.

      The only real competitor is the utter monstrosity that is Blackboard, which I believe starts at $10k/year. For that low, low price, you get a piece of software which is slow, buggy, and has a web interface which manages to disable such revolutionary new browser features as 'the back button', and 'middle click'.

      • Re:Moodle. (Score:4, Informative)

        by CuriousGeorge113 (47122) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @10:36AM (#40984473) Homepage

        FWIW, a few months back, blackboard purchased moodlerooms, which (I believe) manages the open source moodle project.

        Obviously, they played lip service to "We're committed to the moodle project blah blah blah..." But honestly, it's too early to tell what will really become if moodle. My guess is that it will morph into blackboard "lite" and they will use it to try and up sell you to their blackboard program.

          http://www.zdnet.com/blog/education/blackboard-buys-moodlerooms-and-no-this-isnt-an-early-april-fools/4866 [zdnet.com]

        • Re:Moodle. (Score:5, Informative)

          by XxtraLarGe (551297) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @11:15AM (#40984961) Journal

          FWIW, a few months back, blackboard purchased moodlerooms, which (I believe) manages the open source moodle project.

          Moodlerooms [moodlerooms.com] is a Moodle hosting service, completely independent of the actual Moodle project. Regardless of what happens to Moodlerooms, Moodle will continue in develpment. Remote Learner [remote-learner.net] is another Moodle hosting service, which I imagine would stand to pick up quite a bit of business if Moodlerooms tried to foist Blackboard on its customers.

        • by n-baxley (103975)

          Moodle HQ (run by the founder Martin Dougiamas) manages the project, though MoodleRooms does contribute a lot of code. I wouldn't fear about Moodle going away any time soon.

      • by JavaJones (512344)

        Speaking as the tech director for a school that actually uses Moodle, it is actually fairly *in*-appropriate because it is designed as a "Virtual Learning Environment", i.e. it focuses on the "learning environment", not the "record keeping". There are several major issues with using it as a grade-keeping, report-generating system. Grading is based on "enrollment" in a "course", unenrolling them makes their grades difficult to access, so it's hard to track student's actual status, e.g. is this student an act

    • Re:Moodle. (Score:5, Informative)

      by jwest (21646) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @10:00AM (#40983981)

      There's also School Tool - http://www.schooltool.org/ [schooltool.org] .

    • What do you want in a grading system?
      All schools have different rules for grading some systems can handle some others do not.
      We have the traditional College Grading Method, that in general statistically automatically curves the grades. Where your final grade is based on the standard deviation from the average. So in a class the average grade was 30% and most students got around that 30% you happen to get a 40% you may have just aced that class. I actually prefer this method, this allows the teacher to te

      • So by being slightly better than the extremely mediocre average, you get an A?
        This doesn't sound too good to me, especially since it would mean:
        a) You're congratulating a kid because he know the very basics, when the rest can't even add two numbers.
        b) An "A student" in one school might be one that completely fails in another. There's no real good measure of comparison.

        • It is good. It separates the quality of the student from the quality of the instruction / classroom / school. What you are talking about goes towards curriculum management, and should discussed very separately from student performance.

          To note: you explored one side of the issue: when the classroom has low standards. what about the other side of the equation when a classroom has high standards and a student that has received A's and B's their whole life gets a C.

          Correlating to your 2 points: a) You a
          • by tibit (1762298)

            That's a crazy argument. With a classroom sample of 30 kids or so, you can't pretend that you're separating anything. For all I know you've got a bunch of doofuses, with crappy socioeconomic background to boot, with firm beliefs that the adults in the school are teh devil that has to "dealt with". For all we know they're fucking the teacher's dog every time he grades them less than A, and their future goal is to be the best crack distributor for the next 5 blocks up and down the main street. Everyone got th

        • You haven't taken statistics yet have you?

          If you have a class of say 50 students. and their average is 30% and the standard deviation is around 5%
          So roughly
          People who got the following grades will get the following...
          under 20% F
          25% D
          30% C
          35% B
          40%+ A

          Being that the grades are Low we can expect that the material taught / tested was very difficult (too difficult, for example if you try to teach second graders algebra, where they can barely do addition and subtraction, and they are just learning multiply and div

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        We have Letter Grades, A, B, C, D, (E/F) then we need to determine if A is the Top or A+ is the top. Does F+ allow you to pass, or just pisses off the student.
        We have Percentages... What percentage is passing... 50% 60% 65%?

        In most cases I've seen, everyone keeps track of percentages - once the final percentage is created is it translated to a letter grade. The letter grade doesn't matter - the percentage does.

        E.g., just over 50% is required for passing. I won't translate that to a F+, but probably a D-, wh

      • My last year of college (applied music) there were 5 people left in the program others had dropped or changed majors. On one of our finals one person aced it with a perfect score and the rest of the class did so poorly that even with what the college considered a standard curve half flunked the final.

        • 5 students is a small set... High degree of error. But the teacher probably chose not to curve it for other reasons.

    • Isn't moodle more for teacher-student communication, e-learning, etc?
      I think the op merely wants teachers to load grades and be able to print report cards based on those grades, while maybe moodle may achieve this, it's not really the right tool for the job.

      • Isn't moodle more for teacher-student communication, e-learning, etc?

        It can be used in that way, but it can also be used as a grade book if you want. The nice thing about Moodle is that it allows that level of flexibility. Just ignore the things you don't want. We have several instructors at my institution that use Moodle only for the grade book, since they are now required to keep grade in an electronic format.

    • Agreed, Moodle is pretty nice and customizable from what I've seen, although there are indeed some rough edges still. Our university recently switched from Blackboard to Moodle and it seems to have worked out just fine and dandy.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Our university also switched to Moodle and it is amazing. I use it to manage interactions but also to manage the grades of my students for which it has a very flexible yet straightforward scheme for setting up grades. Our university will automatically remove students who drop one of my classes and these get erased from my course automatically which, for a large class, saves me considerable time as I don't have to track down a student who has stopped writing quizzes and submitting assignments.

        While Moodle

    • Also, it should be noted that you can disable most features in Moodle, making it just a grade calculator. For example just disable the blogs, tags, and all the activities except the assignment. Now you can use the "offline activity assignment" for grading students, and publish the grades to the students, and/or exporting the grades to the student information system. The moodle.org forums are very helpful, I recommend you ask for help there. Somebody has probably come up with something quite like this before
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @09:12AM (#40983435)

    I wrote Open Administration for Schools, along with other school software, since I REALLY was tired of using spreadsheets to do calcs. http://richtech.ca/openadmin

  • Free, flexible, if used on properly managed computers it's secure, skills learned in using it also applicable to other projects...

    • by i.r.id10t (595143)

      This only applies more duct tape... obviously, they already have a spreadsheet app doign this.... I think the questioner wants more... like a Student Information System (SIS). A quick google turns up several, first result was opensis.com and they do have a totally free community edition... as well as support/hosting/etc. options.

      • If they aren't interested in the results of a quick Google search (certainly easier to do than posting a question to Ask /.), then maybe they're also not aware of/familiar with Open Office.

        I agree with the comments posted below, anything you choose will be hated by the majority of users, just for being different. At least OO is still a spreadsheet, a competent one at that, and ticks the "free" checkbox.

      • by gandhi_2 (1108023)

        SIS2000 is pretty good and open-ended. Our district only ditched it because the teachers union wanted Powerschool back. Primarily because it had an Apple logo on it, and teachers being left-wing socialists, they naturally loved that.

        The joke was on them, because during our SIS2000 years, Pearson bought Powerschool. Then we had a couple years of teachers bitching that Powerschool was missing features that SIS2000 had.

        Oh, and the pricetag. If you don't agree with spending over 1 million dollars on Powerschool

    • by ArhcAngel (247594)
      Did Open Office get revived? [icewalkers.com] I thought LibreOffice [libreoffice.org] was the newish hotness? Oh, and the set that wants Free as in Beer and isn't concerned with FOSS there is always Kingsoft Office. [kingsoftstore.com]
      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        Most people who want "free as in beer" also want "free as in speech".

        • by ArhcAngel (247594)
          Actually most people want "free as in beer"...period! and they have no idea what "free as in speech" means.
  • by Anne_Nonymous (313852) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @09:13AM (#40983443) Homepage Journal

    ...prepare yourself to be hated by every one of your co-workers.

  • Build it (Score:4, Informative)

    by KalvinB (205500) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @09:15AM (#40983471) Homepage

    Spreadsheets translate to databases which translate to websites easily if you just need some simple software for teachers to use.

    Alternatively, I'd recommend JupiterGrades.com

    http://jupitersis.com/ [jupitersis.com]

    It's about $5 per year per student. Kids can access it from home, parents have their own login. They can see what homework they're missing, how a homework assignment affected their grade.

    Sometimes it's just better to spend the little bit of money.

    • $5 per kid is seriously expensive. in NY that would cost about $7.5 million in Chicago $2.5 million.
      • Considering cost to educate a student per year is something like $6-7K around these parts, nah, $5/kid isn't expensive. It may not be competitive, in that you can get the job done for less. Then again, NY is the rocket-scientist city that paid something like $600 million for a system to manage time and attendance. $7.5 million could be a huge bargain.

  • by mrjb (547783)
    Use whatever you want, so long as you keep the password on a little piece of paper somewhere. If you don't, may I suggest "pencil" is a good one.
    • by Alter_3d (948458)

      Use whatever you want, so long as you keep the password on a little piece of paper somewhere. If you don't, may I suggest "pencil" is a good one.

      Yeah and watch out for Matthew Broderick. He's up to no good.

  • engrade (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheSecondUser (2708021) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @09:17AM (#40983501)
    engrade.com is free. They make money from buying customer support and added features.
    • by bufke (2029164)

      Engrade is not open source. The OP asked specifically for open source. That said Engrade is a fine program and has a API that could easily integrate with a open source school information system, I speak from experience doing this myself.

  • by FridgeFreezer (1352537) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @09:30AM (#40983639)
    I can recommend www.pun.net, partly because a friend of mine is lead dev.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      >I can recommend www.pun.net, partly because a friend of mine is lead dev.

      It's nice that he's your friend and everything but what actual, y'know, features make it worth considering?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...as much as the big nonfree alternatives, at least ( http:// moodle.org )

    however, if *all* you need to do is print report cards, why not LaTeX

  • Moodle (Score:3, Interesting)

    by XxtraLarGe (551297) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @09:42AM (#40983785) Journal
    It may be overkill for what you need, but Moodle [moodle.org] is open source & has a grade book. You can run it on a USB stick if you don't need to have it available over a network, and you can enroll your students with a simple plain text file.
  • If you are looking for the complete package, check out Sakai CLE and the gradebook feature in particular. http://www.sakaiproject.org/learning-management [sakaiproject.org]

    Gradebook: Calculate, store and distribute grade information to students

  • http://richtech.ca/openadmin/ looks pretty good. It has more features than you are looking for but it definitely has an online grade book and report card function.

  • Are you looking for a school information system (SIS) to store all teacher grades and print reports? Or a gradebook for individual assignments?

    I made a SIS in django https://github.com/burke-software/django-sis [github.com] that would let you make spreadsheet templates (with the teachers students already in) for teachers to enter grades and then upload them to submit their grades. It has a very customizable report builder for report cards that lets you edit the template in Libreoffice and throw in some variables and oth

  • Schooltool (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    http://schooltool.org/

  • by vlm (69642) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @10:02AM (#40984009)

    ... just manage grading calculations and printing of report cards. The management of grades is currently done using spreadsheets...

    I can see why that isn't working so well. I worked at a place where some rather tabular forms were generated and printed using Lotus 1-2-3, and no this isn't a "back in the 80s" story this was only a decade ago.

    A better solution is spreadsheets on the backend, word processor to make the report cards look good, and a mailmerge program in between to shove spreadsheet data into the nicely formatted world proc doc all automated.

    One semi-serious question is with the prevalence of grade inflation do you really need to do anything other than list the student name and sick day count, since apparently everything else will be all "A"s?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @10:02AM (#40984011)

    We're calling it GAKU Engine ["Learning Engine" from Japanese]. It's fully open source (GPL). Along with full school/course/student management features and full interface for students we want to integrate features so schools can easily extend and augment their educational offerings with free/open content and external services. We'll have a Kickstarter up soon too, untill then check out the (incomplete) PR site at: http://genshin.org/en/GAKUEngine

  • Six or seven years ago, I worked for a small computer repair company that was providing support for a K-12 in a rural area that was using SIS, and they were looking for ways to save a buck. I found OpenSIS, which they liked (much of the interface was apparently very similar to what they were using), but the folks I was working with at the school level couldn't get support from the district level to change over.

    There are different versions, depending on what you need. If you don't need some of the advanced

  • by djsmiley (752149) <djsmiley2k@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @10:06AM (#40984065) Homepage Journal

    Seriously, you've not pointed out whats _wrong_ with your spreadsheets to help us make _any_ real suggestion.

    Firstly your gunning to change a system which apparently works. This is asking for failure.

    As others have pointed out this could very simply be a database + web front end, but unless you know _why_ your changing it, your likely to make it worse.

    • by NEDHead (1651195)

      That would be you're, and you're, and don't flame me because this is an educational thread!!

    • by glitch23 (557124)

      Seriously, you've not pointed out whats _wrong_ with your spreadsheets to help us make _any_ real suggestion.

      There may not be anything actually wrong with their system; they just may want to make it better. People have been quite capable of making suggestions without needing to know what's wrong with their current system of spreadsheets.

      Firstly your gunning to change a system which apparently works. This is asking for failure.

      The fact the person posted on Ask Slashdot could be viewed 2 different ways, b

  • I used to teach at a local community college, and I found Excel to be the best tool for grading students work. Once you have your spreadsheet setup the way you like, its easy to re-use with each new class. I created Macros to highlight a students progress so I could show them how well their doing, what assignments they missed, and overall grade. I'm sure you could try using a database like Access, or something like Moodle, but if you just need something simple, and easy to customize, Excel is the way to go.
    • by Yakasha (42321)

      I used to teach at a local community college
      so I could show them how well their doing

      ouch

  • I don't know the availability/status, but I know it is in the works since one of my kids is working on it. And they are making improvements, which is good because I have to listen to my wife complain about Blackboard all the time.

  • by edsousa (1201831)
    Lately on /.

    Hi,
    I have a job to do, but I am too lazy/ignorant/both to do my job or even to use Google. Dear slashdot, will you do my work for me?

    or

    We are some BI company and we are doing market research on this area. What is your favourite software for/which one would you recommend for this task?

    Rinse and repeat...
    (to the hell with mod points)

    • by Cormacus (976625)
      More like:

      Hi,
      I have a job to do and although I've come up with some solutions on my own, I would like to tap into the wider experience of the /. community whose broad experiences may go further in depth than I am able to go with the time I have been given to find a solution.

      In addition, I would like to start a conversation that may be of interest or future use to other people, as they may currently have or in the future have the same problem that I have right now.

      Which of course is invariably followed by a couple responses like yours.

  • by isorox (205688) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @10:18AM (#40984225) Homepage Journal

    $ yes f | ./markWork.sh

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I have used Schooltool [schooltool.org] before and I thought that it was decent enough.

  • This was basically what we did in my CS101 and 102 classes: code up a system to store student records and class grades in C++. Students are objects! Put them in a vector! Put them in a list! Make your own list container class! (No, I am not seriously suggesting you use that software, of course...)
  • By storing the grade information of your pupils in the cloud, you will be able to leverage the synergies that are generated when this valuable demographic data is mined to maximize educational targets.

    After using a SAAS provider you can deploy a multi-functional framework that is based on best practices and LEAN methodogies. For instance, the Slashdot moderation system could be used to have a peer-review mechanism for student performance which would provide one of the metrix in a three-dimensional rating m

  • Your school employer has tasked you with determining an appropriate system for managing student grades and producing report cards. You take that task and the first thing you do is try to find an open source solution? Why? Why is your first step to limit your choices? Perhaps you are looking at proprietary solutions as well, but your post is incredibly short on details and the phrasing of the question does not imply you have done so.

    For a program that is going to affect every teacher, administrator, stud

  • We use Moodle in all of our schools ( Saanich School District [sd63.bc.ca]) and teachers sometimes use the gradebook function. British Columbia currently utilizes an enterprise commercial system which has been bought out and being depreciated. As most of the commercial offerings are, ... well commercial, also filled with bloat, are vendor-centric and cannot react to a school or districts ever changing needs and requirements - we have spawned a new student information system called openStudent [openstudent.ca]. It is based on the Educati
  • [Note: I forgot to log in and posted this AC. I'm not sure if reposting as my user is compatible with Slashdot netiquette canon, but this makes it easier to keep track of replies, so pardon the noise.] Several people have rushed to suggest Moodle as the obvious solution to this problem. I have two distinct and largely independent concerns about such answers. First and foremost, it is unclear to me that the proper solution to this sort of problem must be a monolithic, integrated and gigantic learning mana
  • I've been looking in to this for years. First off, there is no "good" open source grade book that isn't overkill or underkill. Open source grade books fall into two categories. The first type are for single teacher use. They have a shitty interface, in that they don't use a spreadsheet style and limited methods. Many don't make report cards and the like. Others are overkill in that they are part of a larger package (like open admin) that is a pain to install for a single teacher usage. Many others provide t

  • http://schooltool.org/ [schooltool.org]

    From their features page:

    Teacher Gradebooks

    * Use SchoolTool’s gradebook for calculating point or percentage based grades.
    * SchoolTool provides a spreadsheet-style gradebook for each class section.
    * Each gradebook can be organized as multiple worksheets.
    * Assignments and activities can be organized and weighted by categories, such as “Exam” or “Lab,” which can be customized for each site.
    * Point-based scores can be converted to grades using f

  • Moodle is nice. And free. But how are you going to pay for the web host to run it, and the software developer to install, configure and maintain it to meet your needs?

    For $1.50 per student per month you can use a cloud-based tool like quickschools.com to track attendance, homework, grades, report cards, transcripts and more. And you can start tomorrow, not after a 6-month project development cycle has passed.

    Sure, Moodle can do much more than that, but for the features you are asking for, no Moodle i

  • Well, you are in a high school, so why not find some kid to setup WAMP, configure the database, and write you some web pages for entering in the grades. Seems like a simple and mostly free solution to me. Just be sure the kid you get to code it, can be trusted...wouldn't want anyone slipping in and changing grades now would we ;-) Just a thought....
  • There have been plenty of recommendations for Moodle, but just to throw it out there... it's not open source, but GradeConnect is a hosted course management system and is designed to do exactly what you're looking for (and a whole lot more) and has a free version. I used to do some development work for GradeConnect 6+ years ago, so I know the folks who run it and they're all educators. It really is a system designed by teachers, for teachers. Worth checking out at least!

    http://www.gradeconnect.com/

  • While it is *not* an online grade book and will *not* print report cards (though that could easily be added), if you just want to display student grades online for students/parents to review then you should consider OnlineGrades at http://www.onlinegrades.org/ [onlinegrades.org] . It is PHP + MySQL and the price is right. It takes exports from several standard grade book software programs.

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