Final Grades, Academic Credit, and Transcripts

I am testing Gibbon for use in an undergraduate institution. I really like it and want to adopt it (and embrace the vision of an open source SIS), but I am not sure if I can without a mechanism for recording final grades.

Our school uses the Full Letter Grade system, which is relatively common internationally. These letter grades are tied to a Grade Point Average, in which 4 = A, 3 = B, 2 = C, 1 = D, and 0 = F (It is more complicated than that, but that is the basic concept). When a student successfully completes a course, they obtain academic credit (at our school it is 1, 2, or 4 credits), and their grade point average is calculated based on their grades, weighted to how many credits each class is (So an A grade in a 4 credit class has more effect than a C grade in a 1 credit class). Students must meet a minimum number of academic credits to graduate (in this case, 120 credits). So far I have not discovered a way to record final grades for each class, and certainly not a clear mechanism for academic credit or a simple, one-click academic transcript, whether as CSV or Excel or PDF.

But that is a critical function for all post-secondary institutions I have had contact with in the US and Asia (Singapore and Vietnam). One former academic dean in Singapore who regularly takes part in accreditation visits remarked that one of the first things he looks for is for the school to be able to generate a transcript easily. This is useful for deans to determine how a student is doing at the moment, but students wishing to study a the post-graduate level need an academic transcript to show to the schools to which they apply.

As I see it, there are three functions needed regarding student assessment:

1. Final grades for each class (if I have missed how to do this, please let me know)
2. Academic credit per course, and cumulative for the students course of study in a degree
3. One-click transcripts (I am aware of Rapid36's work on reporting, but if #1 and #2 above are not in place, it is hard to generate #3.)

If I am missing something, please let me know.

To summarize the features I would love to see:

1. Each course would have a field for academic credit (configurable as a drop-down, so the school could customize the number of credits available for their courses).
2. The markbook would be able to be toggled to have a default final grade column that is either calculated from all the assessments of the class (for example, configuring a grade scale that converts % to FLG) or manually entered by a teacher or administrator.
3. Each student profile would have a link to a student transcript (either to export to CSV, Excel, or PDF) that would include a total number of academic credits earned.
4. A grade point average would be calculated based on a grading scale configured by the school and displayed on the transcript.

This is related to the request at https://ask.gibbonedu.org/discussion/757/final-grades-by-quarter-and-report-cards#latest. But what I am thinking about involves more.

Would it be possible at a minimum to add #1 and #2 above? After that I am sure we can work with Rapid36 to design and implement transcript reports that suit our school's needs.

Comments

  • This is a really interesting question, and something that I think we will face more and more. I appreciate your support for an open source model : )

    For function 1., I think you will find that you can do this using the Internal Assessment part of the Formal Assessment module. You, as an admin, can set up columns, and then have teachers enter the data (the model is similar to the Markbook, except teacher's are given the columns rather than making them themselves). You can define different types of Internal Assessment columns in School Admin, and so could easily add a Final Grade column type.

    In terms of number 2, this is beyond the scope of what our team can offer at the moment, as we are working hard on testing v13, and then into v14 development (which is fairly full with requested changes already, as you can see on our Trello board).

    My suggestion would be to speak to someone like Rapid36 (@andystat) to see if they can code the changes you need to the core, and then pass them to us for acceptance. I would be happy to liaise with Andy on what is needed, and then he could quote you on the work. This one time payment would then result in this feature being available in all future versions for all future users.

    With this in place, you could then work with Rapid36 on the module you need to put together the final transcripts.

    Does this sound reasonable?

    Ross
  • Ross,

    Given what you have on your plate for v.13 and then v.14, I can understand wanting to kick this down the field a bit. I am already talking with Rapid36, so probably that is the way forward. If the code can be brought into the open source module, great. I will just continue with @andystat and see what we can come up with. Thanks!
  • Did any progress happen with Rapid36 that might have database changes go back to the core? I have been looking for a long time for a good open source SIS, and when I found Gibbon recently, I got very excited. But having the capability to store transcripts/final grades, especially final grades that students may have earned from other educational institutions is very important to my needs, and the needs of most of the schools I might do consulting for.
  • Yes, Andy got us going nicely on transcripts. He would say that something like that needs to be done for each school. I wish there was a general transcript module that had basic options.

    We also worked on a program administration module (required courses, minimum credits, etc.). I think that may be able to morph into a module that is available publicly.
  • I might dive into helping with some of this, but I don't want to duplicate work that has been done (assuming it is good work) because fragmenting a project is not good. But transcript functionality is a key requirement of any good SIS system. And I think I can design a more robust database structure than other SISes have for this, that could work in a variety of contexts.
  • That sounds interesting. I would contact Rapid36 to see how open he is to collaborating on that.
  • Hello Everyone, Report cards and transcripts are necessary for every school especially for university admissions. Opensis has a module for report cards and transcripts that work. Would a coder be able to see if their modules could be modified for Gibbon? The rest of Gibbon is excellent.

  • It isn't always as easy as just transporting code from one project to another, as the database design underneath is usually different, and the coding used for the front end, is usually different.... Although that isn't to say that one cannot borrow from different projects, and create similar types of things, based upon what one learns from a different project.
  • Hi Jacob! Well said. I agree, it's not likely the code could be transferred between systems, but the workflows and methodologies of another platform are certainly worth learning from.

    Merging in a reply for this thread too: https://ask.gibbonedu.org/discussion/comment/3692/#Comment_3692
    Hi Cam, Ross here. I think this struck a chord with @sandra as she mentioned it to me. I think she has another plan up her sleeves (where she keeps many great ideas!), and so I think something in this regard might be in the pipeline soon. Anything you want to add her Sandra? Thanks!
    At my school there have been enough report card changes lately it prompted me to start in on a set of object-oriented classes that could be used for a generic reporting solution. They're focused on decoupling the report data from the layout of the PDF, allowing for a flexible way for reports to be composed of sections of smaller, modular templates. It could certainly make it's way into a module.

    At the moment what I'm working on is just focused on the PDF generation end of reporting, it doesn't handle the other end of entering, calculating and storing grades/comments/etc. (for that side of things my school is currently using a modified version of the Reporting module by Andy Statham). Ideally a flexible-enough PDF solution shouldn't care if the data comes from a core module or an extended one, which is my aim.

    There's lots of pieces of the puzzle, if there's developers interested in collaborating on these features it'd be great to discuss and figure out the requirements. It certainly seems that every school does things differently (handling of course credits, calculating GPAs, transcript requirements, etc.) If there's enough common elements between schools then it does make sense to try and develop these into a common set of features, otherwise various use-cases could still be handled by extended modules.

    It sounds like the program administration module @dcowens76 mentioned may also be worth looking into, certainly if there's a possibility of it being open source.
    admin
  • @sandra this sounds really interesting, and I am keen to see where you end up. Cam Sabo, another Gibbon user who is not registered on the forum yet, shared this video with me, which might provide food for thought in terms of workflow and functionality:



    Good luck, and let me know if I can help at all.

    Ross
    sandra
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