Students are concerned about their grades—sometimes more than they are about their learning—so it is important to adopt a grading system that is easy for you to manage and for students to understand. What does it mean to have an 85% on a test that is worth 35% of the course grade? It often means a headache and lots of student questions. Here is a simple point-based system that works well for both students and teachers, and which can be easily used when listing grades in Blackboard.

Point Breakdown
The key to this system is to make all assignments worth a set number of points, usually a nice even number that is easy to relate to familiar percentages. In this example, we see each assignment and its point value. More important assignments or categories are "weighted" more heavily simply by carrying more points. And if you make major assignments worth easily understood numbers—like 100—then converting from a test percentage to points is very simple.

Test 1: 100 points
Test 2: 100 points
Final Exam:  200 points
Term Paper:  50 points
Homework:  50 points
Total:  500 points

Moving from Letters to Points
So you like to give letter grades for some assignments, like the Term Paper above, but don't know how that works in this system? Just give a simple chart that equates letters to points, usually by standard percentages. Something like this would work:

A  = 100% = 50/50 points
A- = 96% = 48/50 points
B+ = 93% = 46/50 points
B = 90% = 45/50 points
etc.

Working with Unknown Point Totals
Sometimes you need to have a category (in this case "Homework") where you don't know in advance how many points you will give during the semester. Here is the trick: You simply take the percentage of possible points the student earns, then convert that to a point total; it is easiest if the point total is something simple like 50 or 100. In the Homework example above—50 points possible—Johnny earns 45 out of 65 homework points. That equals 69% of the possible points—69/100 or 35/50 points. So Johnny gets 35 points in that odd category. Pretty simple math if you keep a point total like 50 or 100.

Converting Back to a Final Letter Grade
To convert those points back into a final letter grade, just provide a conversion chart so students can look at their point totals and find matching range on the chart. In the example below, you'll see that each letter grade is equated to a point range and a percentage range; by adding the percentage range, students can figure out where they stand at any point during the semester—if Susan has 87% of the possible points so far, which means she has a B right now.

A  (95%+)  475 +
A-  (92%+)  460 - 474
B+  (88%+)  440 - 459
B  (85%+)  425 - 439
B-  (82%+)  410 - 424
C+  (78%+)  390 - 409
C  (75%+)  375 - 389
C-  (72%+)  360 - 374
D+  (68%+)  340 – 359
D  (65%+)  325 - 339
D-  (62%+)  310 - 324
F  (< 62%)  < 310

Using a simple system like this makes your grade management faster and easier, and it will cut down on the number of questions from students, since they can more easily figure out their grades on their own.