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Creation / Setting Up the Grade Center

The Grade Center exists in your course and comes with basic student enrollment information and a Total points column.

Grades are only visible to students if you add a My Grades tool link to the course menu.

Columns which are created automatically by Bb Learn when you create the activity:

  • Tests
  • Assignments
  • TurnItIn Assignments
  • McGraw-Hill Activities
  • Graded Discussion Forums
  • Graded Blogs, Journals and Wikis
  • TurningPoint Clicker Quizzes
  • SCORM packages

You need to manually create a column for include anything that happens outside of Blackboard Learn, such as:

  • Participation
  • Performances and Presentations
  • Scantron Exams
  • Paper Tests

Creating a Manual Column

Column Name: Keep it short. The Grade Center name is optional.

Description: This is for the instructor and is not shown to students.

Primary Display / *Secondary Display: This Primary is seen by the student, but Secondary is only seen by the instructor.

  • Score is the number of points.
  • Letter translates a number into a letter grade according to the default Letter Schema. You should edit the default Letter schema to ensure it is correct for your policies.
  • Text could be informational about the student (like a research topic) or descriptive feedback (such as "adequate").
  • Percentage is automatically calculated based on the points possible.
  • Complete / Incomplete displays a check box for "complete".

Category: Adding a column to a category enables many features of the Grade Center including filtering, Smart Views, and Weighted Total columns. You should assign your column to the category that makes sense.

You can create new categories from the Manage menu. You can change the category of a column at any time.

Points Possible: Use a zero if this is an informational column (not a grade).

Associated Rubrics: If you are creating a column for an activity outside Bb Learn, this is the only place you can associate a rubric for grading. If the column was created by Bb Learn, you can also associate a rubric when editing the activity (assignment, journal, etc.).

Due Dates: By adding a Due Date here, you can have the column name appear in the student's "To Do" notifications module on that date.

Include this column in the Grade Center calculations: By selecting this option, the score in this column is included in Total and other calculated columns.

If the score is informational (non-grade) or is itself a calculated grade (such as a sum of quiz scores), do not select this option or you risk distorting the student grade totals.

Show this column to students: You may wish to not display columns that don't apply to most students, such as a special circumstance test.

Show Statistics: Unfortunately, the standard deviation and grade distribution statistics are not currently available in Bb Learn.

Setting Up Your Total Columns

Editing the Default Total Column

The default Total column which comes with a blank Bb Learn course is set to add up all columns, regardless of category. A more effective way to set up your Total column is to change it to act as the sum of your grade Categories. This ensures that as you create additional graded columns and activities they are automatically tabulated provided you assign them to a category. This approach gives the instructor the flexibility to drop a lowest grade in a particular category. Categorizing grade columns will allow you to filter or sort the Grade Center display by column type.

Creating a Weighted Total Column

A weighted total column allows the instructor to assign proportional importance to course components or grade categories. This is explained by the following example.


The Test category is assigned 50% of the total course grade.

In the test category, a student has earned:

Exam 1: 90 out of 100 points
Exam 2: 80 out of 100 points

Exam average is 85%

Therefore, the student earns 47.5 points toward their total grade, or 85% of the 50% Test category weighting. 


The best way to organize your Grade Center is to go to Manage > Column Organization.

Things you can do in Column Organization:

  • Hide the columns you don't want to see on a daily basis, but remember that whether a column is shown to students is set by editing the Column Information for that column.
  • You can re-order your columns to put them in an order that makes sense to you.
  • You could move a Total column or other important columns up above the "frozen column" bar so that it's always shown at the left of your scrolling Grade Center columns.
  • Adding a column to the "Show in All Grade Center Views" block at the top of the page doesn't affect whether students can see the column but those columns are visible to the instructor across all smart views and the full Grade Center view.
  • Verify your columns are in the correct categories. If you need to change the category of one or more columns, you can check the box next to the column(s) and use the Change Category To button.
  • Verify your column Due Dates (shown in the students' "To Do" notifications module are accurate. If you wish to edit a Due Date, you must Edit the Column Information from the Full Grade Center - you can't change it on this screen.
  • Grading Periods are mentioned here, but are generally not used in higher education.

Temporarily re-organizing your Grade Center while you are working can be accomplished by using the Sort Columns By button, but these settings do not persist to the next time you log in. You can select "Ascending" or "Descending", for instance with the Due Date to show the columns in either chronological or reverse chronological order.

Managing the Grade Center

Tips for using the functions of the Manage menu

Grading Periods: These are not generally used in higher education.

Grading Schemas: A Schema correlates a score with a letter or other performance indicator. Blackboard Learn comes with a default Letter schema, but it may need to be edited to match your course's schema.

You could also add additional custom schemas, such as a "Pass/Fail" schema or a Curved Letter Grade schema.

Color Code: Creating color rules in the Grade Center provides visual indicators to help you interpret information quickly. For example, you can use yellow to highlight graded items with failing scores so students and columns that require attention are prominent. Using color code for grade ranges allows you to see at a glance the grade distribution for a single column such as a test. These colors are not visible to students; it's just for the instructor views of the Grade Center.

Categories: Categories make it possible to manage Totals or Weighted Totals more reliably. You can add your categories, for instance to differentiate quizzes from exams.

Smart Views: These show a specific set of Grade Center information to make grade management easier; there are a wealth of options. By selecting a Smart View as a Favorite, the Smart View can then be accessed by a quick link on your Control Panel.

Row Visibility: You can choose to hide the row of a student for reasons such as unofficial withdrawl.

Deleting Columns

When attempting to delete a grade center column which was created by graded activity such as a discussion, test, or assignment, Bb Learn will prompt you to confirm that you wish to delete the grades, leaving the original activity intact. If your intention is to delete the original activity and the grading column, you should instead delete the activity (test, discussion, etc.) from the tool or content area; Bb Learn will prompt you to delete the grade center column at that time.

Grades from a deleted column remain accessible in the Grade History in case of unintentional deletion.

Viewing Activity in the Grade History

The Grade History provides an audit trail for everything that happens in the Grade Center. Faculty can use this capability to retrieve accidentally deleted grades or supervise Teaching Assistant grading, for instance. All grades added, modified, and deleted are recorded in the Grade History. You can access the Grade History under the Reports menu. 

Entries in the Grade History are recorded with the name of the student (completing an automatically graded test), an instructor or TA, or "null null" which means that the grade was automatically entered by Bb Learn - for instance when an attempt is cleared, or an exam is regraded.

You can also download all Grade History records to a spreadsheet-compatible text file for sorting, filtering, record keeping, or other uses.

Viewing Attempts on Assignments and Tests

You can access student submitted attempts for Assignments and Tests through the Grade Center, both those in need of grading and already graded. There is a drop-down menu on each student score, and attempts are available by date and time submitted. 

Exempting, Ignoring or Clearing Attempts

Exempting a Grade: If a student is exempted from a grade, then a Total Column  or Weighted Column will not count that grade for or against a student's average.

*Ignoring an Attempt: Need to underrstand the implications??? tests or assignments or both? only in cases of multiple attempts that are averaged or select the highest grade? 

Allow Additional Attempt: ??? does this clear the first attempt? Can it be set before there is a first attempt? test or assignments or both?

Clearing an Attempt: Clearing an attempt is commonly done if a student experiences a technical problem that prevents completion of the submission. The entire attempt is erased.