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Blackboard Grading Rubrics For Essays



A Grade Center column is created automatically for each test you create and deploy in your course. A test that has been submitted, but not graded, is indicated with the needs grading icon . Although Blackboard automatically scores objective test questions, you must grade subjective questions manually (e.g. Essays, Short Answer, and File Response).

Tests that you need to grade are accessed from the Needs Grading page or from the Grade Center.

You have the options to grade tests anonymously, to grade all responses to a specific question, and to give full credit for all responses to a question. You can also delete questions from a test or clear a test attempt to allow a student to retake a test. This article will cover all of those workflows.

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Accessing Test Attempts From the Needs Grading Page

For courses with many enrolled students and gradable items, the Needs Grading page can help you determine which tests need to be graded first. For example, you can sort by the due date, or by date submitted.

To access the Needs Grading page:

  1. On the Control Panel, expand the Grade Center section.
  2. Click Needs Grading. The total number of items to grade appears on the Needs Grading page.

You can sort and filter the list and grade the most urgent tests first using the Filter dropdown menus at the top of the page:

To filter and sort attempts:

  1. Use the Filter drop-down lists to narrow the list of items to grade by Category, Item, User, and/or Date Submitted.
  2. Click Go. The filtered items appear on the Needs Grading page.
  3. On the action bar, click Grade All to begin grading test attempts in sequence.

The filtered test attempts are placed in a queue for easy navigation among items. Test attempts appear on the Grade Test page in the order you sorted and filtered them on the Needs Grading page.

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Accessing Test Attempts From the Full Grade Center

The Full Grade Center shows all gradable items. The number of items may influence how you organize your time for grading tasks. You may also find it beneficial to view a student’s previous grades as you grade.

To access the Full Grade Center:

  1. On the Control Panel, expand the Grade Center section.
  2. Click Full Grade Center to access test attempts.

To grade a single test:

  1. Locate the cell for a student’s test containing an exclamation mark.
  2. Access the cell’s contextual menu and click Attempt. The Grade Test page appears.

To grade all attempts for a particular test:

  1. Access the test column’s contextual menu.
  2. Click Grade Attempts. The Grade Test page appears.

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About the Grade Test Page

Access the Grade Test page from the Needs Grading page or the Grade Center. You can navigate among users and attempts, view rubrics, grade anonymously, and view information about a test.

On the action bar at the top right-hand side of the page, you can perform the following actions:

  • Click Hide User Names to grade attempts anonymously, if needed. Click Show User Names to display user information again if you have hidden it.
  • Click Jump to… and select another attempt or another test to view or grade.

Expand the Test Information link to view the following information:

  • Current Grade: Shows the current saved score for this attempt.
  • Status: Shows the status of the test—Needs Grading, In Progress, or Completed.
  • Attempt Score: The score awarded for the test. If the test needs grading, this number is blank.
  • Time Elapsed: If you chose the Set Timer option, the time a student spent taking the test is recorded and appears here. If no timer was set, this will display as “0 minute.”
  • Started Date: The date the student began. Clicking the “Access Log” button will open a pop-up displaying a detailed record of how the student interacted with the test, with times.
  • Submitted Date: The date the student submitted the test for grading.
  • Clear Attempt: Clears the current test attempt. Use when you want to give a student another chance to start over on a test. For example, if a student started a test that forced completion and a technical issue prevented them from finishing, you could allow the student to retake the test by clearing the attempt.
  • Edit Test: Provides access to the Edit Test screen. If you edit a test that students have already begun to take, you will be notified if any of your edits effect the attempts already submitted.
  • Instructions: Any instructions associated with the test.

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Using the Grade Test Page

You access the Grade Test page from the Needs Grading page or the Grade Center.

If you allowed multiple attempts for a test, a student’s grade is not released until you have graded all of the attempts.

  1. On the Grade Test page, type a score for each question. You can overwrite scores for questions graded automatically.
  2. Optionally, if you associated a rubric with Essay, Short Answer, or File Response questions, click View Rubric to grade the question using the rubric. To learn more, see Rubrics.
  3. You may add Response Feedback specific to the individual question for certain subjective question types, such as Essays or Short Answers.
  4. You can leave comments regarding the entire test in the Feedback to User box that appears at the bottom of the Grade Test page. There is also a box for Grading Notes–his text is not seen by the student and is for instructors or TAs to leave private notes on the test.
  5. Click Save and Exit to return to the Full Grade Center, the Needs Grading page, or the Grade Details page, depending on where grading began, or click Save and Next to display the next user, when available. The arrows on either side of the student’s name also will display the previous or next user’s test, where applicable.

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Grading Tests With User Names Hidden

You can choose to grade tests with user names hidden. Grading in this way allows you to remain objective and not unduly influenced by a student’s behavior or previous performance. This practice can also contribute to the student-instructor relationship because students are assured that grading was unbiased.

When grading anonymously, all identifying information is hidden and assessment attempts appear in random order. Each student is assigned a number, such as Student 8.

To grade anonymously from the Needs Grading page:

  1. Access a test attempt’s contextual menu.
  2. Click Grade with User Names Hidden.

To grade anonymously from the Grade Center:

  1. Access the test column heading’s contextual menu.
  2. Click Grade with User Names Hidden.

To grade anonymously from the Grade Test page:

  1. On the action bar, click Hide User Names.
  2. Click OK. If grading was in progress, any unsaved changes to the open attempt are lost. The Grade Test page refreshes and all identifying information is hidden.

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Grading Tests by Question

For each test, you can choose to grade all responses to a specific question. This allows you to move from test to test, viewing and scoring the same question for each student. Grading this way can save time as you concentrate only on the answers for a single question. You can see how all students responded, providing immediate feedback about how the group performed on that particular question. Also, grading by question is useful when you want to revisit a question that requires a score adjustment for all or many students.

All test attempts remain in needs grading status until you have graded all of the responses for all questions.

  1. In the Grade Center, access a test column’s contextual menu and click Grade Questions (or on the Needs Grading page, access a test’s contextual menu and click Grade by Question).
  2. On the Grade Questions page, you can filter the questions by status: Graded, Needs Grading, or In Progress. You may also select the check box for Grade with User Names Hidden, if needed.
  3. For each question, click the number in the Responses column.
  4. On the Grade Responses page, expand the Question Information link to view the question.
  5. Click Edit next to the score for a user.
  6. Type a grade in the Score box. Optionally, add Response Feedback specific to the individual question. The feedback box only appears for certain question types, such as Essays. Optionally, use the content editor functions to format the text and add files, images, links, multimedia, and mashups. Click Submit.
  7. Optionally, if you associated a rubric with Essay, Short Answer, or File Response questions, click View Rubric to grade the question using the rubric. To learn more, see Rubrics.
  8. After grading all student responses, click Back to Questions to return to the Grade Questions page.

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Automatic Regrading of Edited or Deleted Questions

You can edit the point value of or delete questions freely before you deploy a test or after you deploy it, but before any students have taken the test. If test submissions do exist, deleting, editing the point value of a question, or changing the correct answer to a question prompts test attempts to be regraded taking into account the deleted or changed item. The Automatic Regrading link below presents a short video about how automatic regarding of edited or deleted questions functions in Blackboard:

Automatic Regrading  (Flash movie | 2m 58s)

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Before grading with a rubric, you need to associate it with one of the following gradable items

  • Assignments
  • Essay, Short Answer, and File Response test questions
  • Blogs and journals
  • Wikis
  • Discussion board forums and threads

Watch a Tutorial:

Use the following steps to grade using rubrics.

The Raw Total displays the score rounded to two decimal places.

  1. Access the gradable item in the Grade Center, on the Needs Grading page, or from the tool.
  2. Click View Rubric to review or begin grading with the associated rubric.
  3. In Grid View, click a cell to apply that point value to the grade. If a rubric with point ranges is used, select the appropriate value from the drop-down list. To change the selection, click another cell in the same row. Optionally, type Feedback to the student in the text box that appears when a cell is selected.
  4. Optionally, click List View to switch displays and select an option for each criterion to apply that point value to the grade. Optionally, select the check boxes to Show Descriptions for criteria and to Show Feedback text boxes.
  5. A running Raw Total score appears as you make point selections. Optionally, type a score in the Change the number of points box to override the selected score, and type overall Feedback to the student using the full features of the content editor.
  6. When grading is complete, click Exit to leave the rubric without saving your selections, or click Save to save the score and feedback and return to the attempt. Click Save and Next to use another associated rubric for evaluation.

How to Run a Rubric Evaluation Report

A rubric evaluation report provides a comprehensive report of statistics for an item that you graded with a rubric. If you want to evaluate a rubric or its use in your course, you can run the report at any point in the grading process.

  1. On the Control Panel, expand the Course Tools section and select Rubrics.
  2. Access the rubric’s contextual menu and select View Associated Content.
  3. If you already used an item for grading, a contextual menu is available next to the item’s name on the View All Items page. Point to the item’s contextual menu and select Rubric Evaluation Report.
  4. On the Run Reports page, select a Format, Start Date, and End Date.
  5. Click Submit.
  6. If your institution licenses content management, you may choose to Save to Content Collection. Otherwise, clickDownload Report to view the report or Run a new Report to change format or date criteria. Click OK to return to the main Rubrics page.

Available Rubric Reports

  • Rubric Evaluation Report delivers three statistics about the rubric’s use in grading an item.
  • Rubric Overall Performance shows the average total score of all attempts scored using the rubric.
  • Rubric Analysis shows average scores, compared against the possible points, for each criterion.
  • Frequency Distribution shows the distribution of scores across each level of achievement.

Additional Assistance:

  • Call our Blackboard Help line 24 hours a day, every day at (213) 740-5555 and choose option 2.
  • Faculty can request help and training from USC’s Enterprise Learning Technologies group by submitting a request to