Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Easy Grade Pro? More like Beer League

4.0.1a, released January 2007
Fixes: Numerous problems related to summaries, standards, reports, copying, dropping and more have been corrected.

4.0.3, released August 2008
Fixes: Exporting XML Gradebook, dropping of scores, and several minor fixes released October 2008
Fixes: Auto-entry of rubric scores, dropping of scores.

So says Orbis Software, the creators of Easy Grade Pro.
Mine has burped for the second time in less than two months.

Here's a lesson in grammar: If something's fixed, it means
it's no longer broke.

Dollar to doughnuts the next version will also "fix" dropping.

A few teachers get together two times a month to share techniques--we spent yesterday's session learning new technologies to use in the classroom. Shiny new things excite me.

I got back to my gradebook at 4 o'clock. By 8:45, I had 60% of the damage repaired. Another few hours and I'll be done with EGP for the marking period.

I may be done with it for good.

(Yes, it's wonderful when it works--but when the date comes up January 1904, when a child who left your class months ago reappears as an assignment title, when the program prints a number just slightly different from what you see on the monitor, well, trust becomes a factor.)

Does EGP save time? Yep.
Can I make do without? Yep.
Which is easier? Easy Grade Pro.

Still, expedience is not enough reason to adopt a program.

(And now I await the passionate cries defending a crippled system.)


Kate Tabor said...

Oh, doyle - they all have problems. We are cursed with Pearson's Powerschool featuring a fabulous on-line gradebook that allows EVERYONE in the building with Powerschool access the ability to look at your grades and assignments. Not that I'm nervous about that, but it does seem intrusive at times.

The hallmark of our grades and comments is the comment feature. I used to write a one page narrative about each student. In Powerschool we are limited to 2048 characters, both a blessing and a curse.
Is it easier? Yes. Is it better? Not really.

Jeff said...

We use GradeQuick, which is mostly okay. However, the powers that be decided that a switch from the local network version to the web-based version would be a great thing to implement two weeks before the end of the semester.

Anyone care to guess whose 1st and 2nd quarter grades are missing?

Teachhub said...

Do you have access to Blackboard? I use it with my comm. college class and have not had a problem with the gradebook in the 3 years I've been using it.

I've heard that it's being used in K-12 now. You can also do online discussion and submit papers online...

doyle said...

Dear Kate,

No doubt, which is why I plan to switch to a pencil. A little bit of graphite goes a long way.

Dear Jeff,

Ouch! (I just spent hours re-entering the 2 MP grades--you have my sympathies.)

Dear Teachhub,

I don't have access to Blackboard, but I do have access to a Dixon Oriole #2 pencil.

Here's the way I figure it--I have ~110 kids, and enter ~40 grades for each during a marking period. If I can bang out even 1 grade entry every 5 seconds, I'm only talking about 6 hours worth of work at the end of each marking period, and I've already spent more than that re-entering the data on EGP.

If I'm feeling really chipper this weekend, maybe I'll just set up a simple spreadsheet--right now, though, the warm feel of wood ranks higher than anything requiring pixels.

Anonymous said...

we use easy grade pro and powerschool. egp has been problem free but powerschool is where we enter final grades for report cards and wow! have we had some doozies at our site. they always claim its "server related" which i'm sure it is, partially, but also one must blame powerschool...not that anyone listens to us.
i feel all y'alls pain.

ertzeid said...

what are the requirements of grading software? sounds to me like a good open-source project.

doyle said...

Dear ms.w,

EGP seems to work fine for most people; if we ever consider Powerschool, I'll ask folks to contain their excitement.

Dear ertzeid,

There seems to be a one-person project going on in the ubuntu world that stalled. It may be that for any individual teacher who knows what's required, a speadsheet will suffice.

Still, if you're looking for a project, I can start drafting a Saint Ertzeid Prayer that we'll recite once we get a stable program.


Anonymous said...

Five years of EGP usage and never a problem! Just in case, I always save a back-up file after a large grading session. I also use my Palm with the Clipboard and it's fantastic to enter grades while circulating through the room or doing a gallery walk with projects. Grade Quick Web for Mac was a disaster at my last school. We're going to Powerschool next year so we'll see if I fully transition. But I'm really surprised at your comments.

doyle said...

Dear anonymous,

I was surprised, too, but apparently I was not alone, since Orbis admits in its patches that its program does, in fact, drop scores.

Backing it up is always, of course, a good idea, but 100% successful back-ups requires a 100% reliable server. EGP is a live program--if it burps while you are entering data, you have a problem.

Grading is an integral part of what we do. EGP makes it easier, true, but until Orbis gets it right, it should not be your primary means of recording grades.

Anonymous said...

Im a the technology coordinator at a high school with about 3,500 students. I can attest to the issues related to easy grade pro EGP. We run windows and os x, both mangage to crash and drop grades. It really pains me to stare at people and say "sorry, as an adult, you should have had a backup."

Still, I don't think you should be a Luddite, try excel or at least keep a backup save to your email every few weeks.