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Grade Weighting Options

posted Feb 5, 2009, 10:50 AM by lesplin@tech.washk12.org

Grade weighting is an important part of how final grades are calculated. Weight grades to make certain assignments count for more or less towards the final grade. PowerGrade provides four methods to weight grades and assignments. You can use none of them, all of them, or any combination of the four. You can set up weighting at any time during the school year, but it is best to do so at the beginning of the year or term so that students know what to expect.

The first method of weighting is the easiest. Simply enter the value of the assignment multiplied by the number of times you want it weighted. Perhaps homework assignments are usually worth 10 points, but you want a specific homework assignment to be worth 20. When creating the assignment in PowerGrade, make it worth 20 points rather than the usual 10.

The second method uses PowerGrade to weight assignments. Rather than perform the multiplication yourself, enter the points possible and the appropriate weight when you set up the assignment. PowerGrade performs the calculation and enters the proper grade into your data file. Students and parents view the total points possible and the final calculated grade; they do not have access to weighting information. However, you can explain the weighting in the assignment's description.

The third method uses PowerGrade to weight categories of assignments for final grades. For example, weight grades so that chapter tests are worth 50% of the final grade, the final exam is worth 20%, and homework assignments are worth the remaining 30%. The calculation would look like this:

points earned chapter tests / Points possible chapter tests * chapter tests category weight (50%) points earned final exam / Points possible final exam * chapter tests weight (20%) + points earned homework assignments / Points possible homework assignments * homework assignments weight (30%).

With numbers substituted for names 180/200 * 50% + 80/100 * 20% + 100/100 * 30% =  91%.

First the categories are calculated. If a student earned 180 of 200 points they would have 90% for that category. Then the 90% would be multiplied by the category weight of 50% for a category weighted percent of 45%. Next category final tests 80 out of 100 is 80% multiplied by the category weight of 20% for a category percent of 16%. Next home work 100 out of 100 multiplied by 30% is a category percent of 30%. Now add them together 45% + 16% + 30% = 91% for a final grade. 

Using weighting may confuse students and parents because PowerTeacher doesn't show the calculation. If there are no scores in a category the best final percent a student can earn is 100 - the category weighting. In the example above if a student did not take the final the best percent they could earn is 80% and our example student would have earned 75% (45% + 0% + 30%).

Examples in spreadsheet

The fourth method weighs one final term grade for more than another final term grade. Some teachers use this method to calculate term or end-of-year grades. 

If you weight the final exam by two and the final exam category by two, you are effectively quadrupling the weight of the final exam, thereby rendering the other assignments and tests less valuable in the final grade calculation. It is important to carefully consider how much weight you give to which assignment and which category.

If you are not sure how to go about weighting assignments or categories, contact your PowerSchool administrator. Mistakes in the setup process could cause problems later on.