Grade Center

The Grade Center provides flexibility to meet the needs of basic and advanced users, institutional requirements, and a diverse student population. Faculty can easily and efficiently perform most Grade Center activities from a central view.

Screenshot highlighting the grade center area of the control panel


The Grade Center includes features to communicate and share assessment data directly with students, parents, and institutional administrators. A reporting feature can assist faculty and other key stakeholders to understand student progress and make informed decisions to improve performance.


The Grade Center is organized around a main page that resembles a spreadsheet. Each row is populated by a user in the course and each column is made up of Assignments, Tests, and other items that can be graded. Columns can also be used for calculating grades. Grades and comments are added directly on the Grade Center main page, the Grade Details page (where more information can be added), and grading pages that can be accessed directly from the Tools, such as the Discussion Board or Journals.

Needs Grading 

Faculty can view attempts ready for grading or review the Needs Grading page, accessed via the Grade Center section of the Control Panel. Grading and reviewing can begin immediately from this page or columns can be sorted and filters can be applied to narrow the list. Attempts are placed in a queue for easy navigation among items. Once attempts have been graded, they do not appear on the Needs Grading page and the number of items updates to reflect the current number that needs to be graded.

Working with Data

Grade Center data can be downloaded and worked on outside of the system. This data can then be uploaded to the Grade Center at the convenience of the faculty member. Reports can be generated from the Grade Center so students, parents, and other stakeholders can examine the performance of any particular student or the entire course.

To access the Grade Center:  From the Control Panel click Grade Center > select an option (Needs Grading, Full Grade Center, Assignments, Tests) > make a selection from the adjacent content frame.

Frequently Asked Questions

Student Access to Grades

How can I give my students access to view their grades?

You can give students access to view (or, if necessary, restrict their access) to their grades by doing the following:

  1. From the Control Panel, enter the Grade Center (select the Full Grade Center option).
  2. For the item (an assignment or a quiz/test) that you want to give your students access to, go to its column and click the action link (the double downward pointing arrows) next to the column name.
  3. From the drop-down menu, click Edit Column Information
  4. On the adjacent page, scroll down to Options, select Yes for Show this Column to Students (or select No, if you want to restrict access)
  5. Click the Submit button.

Note: You may find it helpful to hide a column while you are working on grading an assignment or a quiz/test and then give access to the column when grading is completed.

Grade Center Setup

I'm trying to figure out how to best set up my Grade Center in Blackboard. In my class, all regular assignments are worth 40% of the students' grades and then tests and quizzes are 60%. Then, of course, I have extra credit for both types, i.e., assignment e.c. and test e.c. Any suggestions on how to set this up?

To start the process, group “categories” of assignments together that you want to weight as a certain percentage of a final grade. For example, if you have 6 quizzes spread out over the semester that are cumulatively worth 30% of a students’ grade, you should categorize all 6 of those items the same way.

At the beginning of the semester, you can create different categories by going to the Control Panel and entering the Grade Center.  Then select the Full Grade Center option; on the adjacent page, place the cursor over the Manage button. From the drop-down menu, click on Categories. On the next page, click the Create Categories button. Then type in the information as required.

Note: To weight grades, you will need to have all the categories set up in the Grade Center and you must make sure that all the categories collectively add up to 100%.

From the Control Panel, enter the Grade Center by selecting Full Grade Center; then put the cursor over Create Calculated Columnand then from the drop-down menu, click on Weighted Column.

On the adjacent page, scroll down to the Select Columns section; then select the category from the Categories to Select box that you want to include in your weighted grade calculations (Warning: do not select any items from the Columns to Select box during this procedure). For selecting multiple categories at the same time, hold down the Control button and select all the categories that you are interested in.

Then click the sideward-pointing arrow button to move the categories over to the Selected Columns box. In the Selected Columnsbox, fill in the percentages and any other conditions (such as “Drop the 2 lowest grades”) that you consider necessary for each category.

Remember: Percentages for the various categories must add up to 100% of the total grade for the grade calculations to come out correctly. For extra credit assignments, please click the Extra Credit Assignment link on the main FAQ page.

Dropping Scores

How do I drop the lowest score(s) from a set of scores in my Blackboard Grade Center in the Original Course View?

In the Original Course View, in order for a lowest score or scores to be dropped from a student's grades, you must create a Category in the Grade Center for the assessments that will be dropped.

    1. From the Grade Center, edit or create a Total or Weighted Column. One of each is included by default in the Grade Center. To edit the column, click the round drop down arrow next to the column name and click the Edit Column Information link
    2. In the Selected Columns section, select each category (predetermined by the faculty member) that will have assignments dropped and move to the Selected Columns box by clicking the bottom right-pointing arrow
    3. In the Selected Columns box, enter the number of grades to be dropped from that category
    4. Select the remaining assessments in the Columns to Select box and move to the right by clicking the top right-pointing arrow. Note: Do not include the columns associated with a selected category, as this will include the points twice in the Total calculation
    5. Click Submit when finished

Curving Grades

I need to put mid term scores in for my online course. The exam was worth 100 points, but I have decided to curve it. How should I deal with this in the Grade Center? It is valued at 100 points but now I am suggesting the top score should be 90 as only 1 person scored in the 80's.
Assuming the new top score is now 90, keep the total points for the exam at 100; however, add a bonus 10 points to each student’s score in the Grade Center for the exam. For example, if the highest score on the test was an 80, by adding 10 points, that score now becomes 90 – likewise, everyone else’s score for that exam also increases by the bonus 10 points.  In this way, you are effectively curving all the exam scores upward by 10 points.

Assigning a Letter Grade

Is there a way to automatically display letter grades based on total points earned in the Grade Center?

Yes, but first the faculty has to create a custom Grading Schema in the Grade Center that matches the desired course grading scale.

From the Control Panel, enter the Grade Center; place the cursor over the Manage button to access the drop-down list. From the drop-down list, select Grading Schemas.

On the Grading Schemas page, click the Letter action link (the double downward pointing arrows) to access the drop-down menu; then select Edit.

On the adjacent Edit Grading Schema page, fill in the Name, and if you so prefer, add an optional Description.

In the Grades Scored Between text box, type the percentage range for the letter grade in question. In the Will Equal text box, fill in the letter grade. In the Will Calculate as text box, type the percentage value to be used if a letter grade is added manually.

Repeat the above steps for all letter grade values you want to edit. Then click Submit.

Blackboard will then display a letter grade for the running weighted total that reflects the grading scale that you have set up.

I want to create a column so I can manually enter a letter grade for my students and have this be their final grade; how can I do this?

This can be accomplished by following these steps:

  1. From the Control Panel, enter the Full Grade Center
  2. Select Create Column
  3. Enter a name for the column (such as "Final Grade")
  4. Select Text for the Primary Display
  5. Enter "0" for the Points Possible
  6. Leave the choices in the Options section as they are
  7. Click Submit (The new column will now appear as the last column in the Grade Center)
  8. Click the action link to access the menu for this column and select Set as External Grade (a green check mark will appear next to the column heading's name indicating that this has been done)
  9. For each student, click on the corresponding cell in the new column and enter the letter grade

External Grade

I notice a green check mark next to the Total column in the Grade Center. What does this mean?

One of the columns of the Grade Center has to be designated as the External Grade column. By default, this column is the Total column and it is marked by a green check mark to the left of the column name. At NIU, the External Grade column can be used to send student grades from Blackboard to MyNIU using the Grade Submission Tool. The Grade Center allows faculty to execute complex grade calculations, and there might be times when a different column needs to be set as the external Grade column.

If you wish to designate a different column as the External Grade Column, follow these steps:

  1. Click the action link for the column that is to be desingated as the External Grade Column
  2. From the drop-down menu that appears, select Set as External Grade

Once these steps have been completed, the green check mark will be assigned to this column, confirming that it is the External Grade column.

Excluding Individual Record

I want to excuse a student from an assignment because he/she was allowed to join the class late. How do I do this in the Grade Center?

Yes, you can do that using the Exempt Grade feature. The exempting of an individual grade can be useful in situations, like where you would like to drop a low quiz/test score or you do not want to include a particular grade when calculating the student’s total score.

From the Control Panel, enter the Grade Center (select the Full Grade Center option). Go to the column of the item in question and click on the individual cell (i.e. grade) that you want to exempt; then click on the double downward pointing arrows that appear. From the drop-down menu, click the Exempt Grade option.

You will now find that the area that contained the grade will show a small blue square in its place. The student will also see the same icon in place of a grade when he/she checks the grade in the Grade Center.

Note: If later on you want to undo this process and enter a grade for that cell, you can repeat the above process -- this time, though, from the drop-down menu, click the Clear Exemption option. The cell will now no longer show the blue square and you can then enter a grade into that cell.

Printing Grades

I would like to print out a copy of my Grade Center. I can't seem to get the entire spreadsheet on a page -- even in landscape mode. How can I adjust it to print out?

The Printing Grades feature of Blackboard Original allows you to print out a physical copy of the grades from the Grade Center. From the Control Panel, enter the Grade Center (select the Full Grade Center option). Then place your cursor over the Reports button; from the drop-down menu, select the Create Report option.

On the adjacent Create Report page, fill in the various options as needed. If you wish to preview the report, you can click Preview. If the report is ready to print, click Submit.

This will take you to the Print Report page. This is where you can see the report before it is printed. Once you are at the Print Report page, click File in the browser and then click Print.

Note: Individual pages in the Report cannot be selected for printing.

Uploading / Downloading Grades

How do I upload and download information into the Grade Center?

Downloading Grades
Periodically during the semester, it is prudent to download the Blackboard Grade Center as a backup or to work from exclusively. The Grade Center will be a CSV (comma delimited) file that can be opened in Excel or other spreadsheet programs.

  1. From the Control Panel, access the Full Grade Center
  2. Click Work Offline > Download located in the upper right corner of the Grade Center
  3. On the following page, select from the following options:
    • Select the data to be downloaded (Full Grade Center, Selected Column(s), or User Information Only)
    • Demlimter Type (Comma or Tab*)
    • Download Location (My Computer or Content Collection)
  4. Click Submit
  5. Click Download when file is ready to be downloaded

*Note:  Comma-delimited files (.CSV) have data items separated by commas. Tab-delimited files (.TXT) are text files that have data items separated by tabs. Both are common types of data files and can be opened in most editing software. Tab-delimited files can be opened in Microsoft Excel but must be saved as .TXT files. Comma-delimited files need to be imported for use in Excel and must be saved as .CSV files. Saving the file in another format will make the file unreadable by the system when uploading.

Uploading Grades

Faculty who maintain a spreadsheet grade book outside Blackboard can upload their grades into the Blackboard Grade Center. To simplify the task of maintaining a spreadsheet outside Blackboard, first DOWNLOAD the Blackboard spreadsheet into Excel or preferred program. This automatically populates a spreadsheet with students' names.

  1. From the Control Panel, access the Full Grade Center
  2. Click Work Offline > Upload located in the upper right corner of the Grade Center
  3. Browse for the file. Files can be uploaded from a local computer or if available, from the Content Collection.
  4. Select the Delimiter Type: Comma, Tab, or Auto (Auto will attempt to automatically detect the delimiter used in the selected file)
  5. Click Submit 
  6. Review the list of data from the file to be uploaded on the Upload Grades Confirmation page. Use the check boxes to de-select any data to be excluded from the upload. Using this method, it is possible to upload only the desired columns of data from the file.
  7. Click Submit to confirm and upload the file.

Note:  Large files take significant time to process and a warning message will be displayed for any files that need extra time to process. To avoid long processing times, break up large files into separate uploads.

Grade Center Reported Issues

Several of my Grade Center columns appear to be missing on my Mac.

New Grade Center Columns are always added to the right end of the Grade Center. When there are more columns than fit on the screen, you will need to scroll to the right. If you are using a Windows computer, there will be a scroll bar at the bottom of the Grade Center that allows you to scroll to the right.

If you are using a Mac, the default setting is for scroll bars to not be visible until you begin scrolling. It is recommended that you set scroll bars to always display within Mac OS X through the System Preferences. To do so, open System Preferences (either by using the icon on the dock, or by clicking the Apple icon in the top left corner of the screen and clicking System Preferences from the drop-down menu). Once System Preferences are displayed, click the General icon. Finally, on the General preferences screen, under Show Scroll Bars, select the button next to Always. You can close out of the Preferences window, and now your scroll bars will show up in the Grade Center. You can click and drag the scroll bar to view the columns past the edge of the screen.

The vertical scroll bar is missing in my Grade Center. I can no longer scroll through through my list of students.

If the vertical scrollbar disappears completely from the right side of the Grade Center in Firefox, and/or the up and down scroll arrows don't move the screen up or down a few rows at a time in Internet Explorer, change the scrollbar size in your Windows Display Properties settings:

For Windows 7:

  1. Logout of Blackboard and close the browser (Firefox or Internet Explorer)
  2. Click the Windows button, then click Control Panel
  3. In the Control Panel window, click Appearance and Personalization
  4. Click Personalization
  5. Click Window Color
  6. Click Advanced Appearance Settings
  7. In the Item drop down menu, choose Scrollbar
  8. Make sure Size is set to 17 or less

When you have completed the steps for your version of Windows, reopen the browser and log in to Blackboard again. The scrollbars and buttons should work properly in both Firefox and Internet Explorer

I deleted a graded discussion forum, but the column is still in the Grade Center and there is no option to delete it.

When a discussion forum is created as a graded forum, a column is automatically created in the Grade Center. If the discussion forum is then deleted, the column remains in the Grade Center and cannot be deleted. This issue can also occur during a Course Copy, if Grade Center Settings are copied but the Discussion Board is not (and graded discussion forums exist).

There are two workarounds: Faculty can hide the column from the student view and then hide the column from the instructor view OR faculty can use Bulk Delete to remove all Grade Center columns and settings. WARNING: using Bulk Delete to delete the Grade Center can permanently delete student grades and any Assignment or Test submissions that have been made.

The last student alphabetically is missing from my Grade Center.

This occurs in Firefox and is due to the scroll bar size setting. You can work around this issue by clicking on the top of the Last Name column to sort the students in descending order from Z-A when you need to see the final student, and then click it again to sort it from A-Z. You can also change the scrollbar size in your Windows Display Properties settings to fix the issue permanently:

For Windows 7:

  1. Logout of Blackboard and close the browser (Firefox or Internet Explorer)
  2. Click the Windows button, then click Control Panel
  3. In the Control Panel window, click Appearance and Personalization
  4. Click Personalization
  5. Click Window Color
  6. Click Advanced Appearance Settings
  7. In the Item drop down menu, choose Scrollbar
  8. Make sure Size is set to 17 or less

When you have completed the steps for your version of Windows, reopen the browser and log in to Blackboard again. You should be able to see all of the students.

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