Blackboard (Faculty) - Grade Center: Drop Lowest or Highest Grade

This document provides an overview of dropping the lowest or the highest grade.

Dropping the lowest or the highest grade(s) can be done in either a Calculated Column or a Weighted Column.

Assign a Category

If you are dropping the lowest grade of a series of, for example, quizzes, all of the quizzes must be assigned the same category.

Create Categories


Why Use Categories?

Categories are useful to sort the Grade Center, when weighting grades, or when dropping grades. By default, the Grade Center includes several predefined categories: Assignment, Blog, Discussion, Journal, Survey, Turnitin Assignment, and Test. These categories are automatically assigned to Grade Center columns that are created when you create a Blackboard assignment, blog, discussion board, journal or Turnitin Assignment and indicate it will be graded; or you create an online test or survey and deploy it in your course.

You may create your own categories to correspond with different types of assessments for your course (i.e. Homework, Labs, Group Presentation, Research Paper, Extra Credit, etc.). It is best to create categories before creating the Grade Columns so that you can choose the appropriate category to which to assign each new Grade Column.

Create a Category

  1. In the Grade Center, click on  Manage on the menu and click Categories.
  2. On the Categories page, click Create Category button.
  3. On the Create Category page, type the category Name and an optional Description. The description can help differentiate categories and explain a category’s purpose.
  4. Click Submit.

Associating a Category to a Column

  1. In the Grade Center, access the appropriate column header's menu.
  2. Click Edit Column Information.
  3. On the Edit Column page, make a selection from the Category drop-down list in the Column Information section.
  4. Click Submit.

Associating a Category to Multiple Columns

  1. In the Grade Center, click on  Manage on the menu and click Column Organization.
  2. Place a checkmark in front of the columns you want to change. 
  3. Scroll to the top or bottom of the page and click the button Change Category to... and select the category.
  4. Click Submit.



Edit the column and assign the category to each column.

Create a Calculated or Weighted Column

If you have not already done so, create a Calculated Column (Total or Weighted Column)

    Create a Total Column


    Total Column

    The Totals Column is included in your Grade Center by default in all new courses. It is set to display all columns in the Grade Center within its calculation.

    Edit a Total Column

    1. To edit a Total Column, from the Full Grade Center, click on the menu drop-down button, then click on Edit Column Information from the expanded menu.

      Edit column

    2. From the Select Columns section, "All Grade Columns" is defaulted. If you do not want to include all columns, click the Selected Columns and Categories button.

      Select all agrade columns

    3. Highlight the columns to be included in the Total column. To select more than one column, hold the CTRL key down while clicking on the column's name.

    4. Click the right arrow to move the columns to the "Selected Columns" box.

    5. Highlight the categories to be included in the Total column. To select more than one column, hold the CTRL key down while clicking on the categories' name.

    6. Click the right arrow to move the categories to the "Selected Columns" box.

      Grade Center Customizing Total Column

    7. "Calculate as Running Total" button should remain as Yes. As a reminder, you need to place a zero (0) in the cells for assignments that are not submitted or the grade will not calculate correctly.

    8. Click Submit at the bottom of the page.


    Create a Weighted Column


    Weighting Grades

    The Weighted Total column should be used when the final grade is to be calculated by averaging the grade for items and/or categories and then multiplying that by a percentage for weighting. See Configure Weighting section below.

    NOTE: If you are using the weighted total column as your final grade, you need to set it as the external grade.

    Weighted Grades: Things to Know Before You Begin

    • You can weight by column, by category, or by a combination of both.
    • In order to weight by category:
      • Relevant categories must first exist or be created (Full Grade Center > Manage > Categories) in the Grade Center.
      • Individual assessments must be assigned to the correct category (Full Grade Center > Manage > Column Organization > select columns > Change Category to…).
    • When you want to drop the lowest "x" scores for a group of assessments (e.g. quizzes), you must weight that group of assessments by category, not by column.
    •  The Weighted Total is always calculated as a percentage.
    • The only way to apply Extra Credit or Attendance Demerit points with a Weighted Total is to apply that Extra Credit or Attendance Demerit column to a category.
    • When you weight by category, you will be faced with an option to weight the individual items within the category "Equally" or "Proportionally" (see below). If all of the individual items within the category are worth the same number of points, it doesn't matter which option you choose. However, if the individual items within the category are worth differing numbers of points, the method you choose can result in dramatically different calculations. To determine which method is best for you, consider how you would manually calculate the score.
      • If you would add all of the individual scores up and divide that sum by the total points possible, you should choose "Proportionally."
      • If you would calculate the percentage earned for each assessment and then divide the sum of those percentages by the number of assessments, you should choose "Equally."
    • For assessments being submitted through Blackboard, where a column will automatically be created each time you create a new assessment (e.g. Test, Assignment, Turnitin Assignment, or Discussion Board, Journal, Blog, Wiki set up to be graded) and you expect to have multiple assessments of that type, it is most expedient to weight by category. Each time you add a new item, as long as it is assigned to the correct category, it will automatically be included in the weighted total score calculation with the appropriate weighting.
    • When you are weighting grades, you should not display the Total column to your students as it is irrelevant. Follow this path to not show the Total column to your students: Full Grade Center > Total > Edit Column Information > 4. Options: Show this Column to Students > No).

    Configure Weighting

    1. Go to your course Control Panel and click on Grade Center. Then choose Full Grade Center.

    2. Locate the Weighted Total column. 

    3. Mouse over the Weighted Total column header and click the circular icon to the right of the column name to open the menu options.

    4. Select Edit Column Information from the drop-down menu. 
    5. Scroll down the page to the Select Columns section. Select the column OR category name on the left-side of the screen. (If you weight by Category - e.g. "tests" = 20% "homework" = 10% - then you can easily drop grades later.)

    6. Once selected, the column or category name will be highlighted. Click the right-facing arrow to move your selection to the Selected Columns box on the right. In the Selected Columns box, you can apply percent weights for each column or category.

      Select the column

      Tip: Make sure that your choices do not result in duplication of data.   For example, make sure you have not selected both a "Column: Quiz Average" and a "Category: Quiz" which would pull the quiz assessments in twice.

    7. For Columns, assign the percentage weighting for each Column in the box that appears before it. (See Figure A below).
      Weighting Grades by Columns

    8. For Categories, assign the percentage weighting for each Category in the box that appears before it. Choose whether you wish to weight the individual items within that category Equally or Proportionally. If you wish to drop the lowest "x" grades, enter that number in the appropriate field.  (See Figure B below).  
      Weighting Grades by Categories

      Tip: Weight the category equally if all items are worth the same amount of points. Weight the columns proportionally if items have different points (E.g. Quiz 1 is worth 5 points, Quiz 2 is worth 10 points).

    9. Once all of your columns or categories have been moved to the right-hand Selected Columns box, the Total Weight should add up to 100%. You may need to click outside the box after entering the last percentage to see that last entry reflected in the total.

    10. Leave the Calculate as running total set to the default, Yes.

    11. Review the remaining settings in Section 4.  

    12. Click the Submit button.

    How Blackboard Calculates Weighted Grades

    To better understand weighted grades, it is important to understand how Blackboard does the math.

    Weighted Columns vs. Weighted Categories

    Weight by columns when each assessment has a weight


        Exam 1 = 20%
        Exam 2 = 30%
        Paper = 40 %
        Participation = 10%

    Weight by categories if you have multiple assessments of the same type


        Quizzes = 20% (10 weekly quizzes)
        Written Assignment = 40% (2 written assignments)
        Tests = 40% (3 tests)

    Weighted Equally vs. Weighted Proportionally

    Weighting Equally is the sum of percentages earned divided by the number of items.

    Weighted Proportionally is the total points earned divided by the total points possible.

    For the example below, the points possible for each assessment are:

    Quiz 1 = 20 points
    Quiz 2 = 15 points
    Quiz 3 = 25 points
    Quiz 4 = 10 points
    Quiz 5 = 30 points
    Discussion = 10 points
    Midterm = 100 points
    Final = 100 points

    For the example below the weights are:

    Quizzes = 20 %
    Discussion = 10 %
    Midterm = 30 %
    Final = 40 %

    For the following example below, the Grading Schema is:

    A = 90% - 100%
    B = 80% - 89.999%
    C = 70% - 79.999%
    D = 60% - 69.999%
    F = 59.999% and below

    Weighting Grades Equally vs. Propotionally

    Selecting the correct type of column is important. Choose the method by how you would hand calculate the grade. Understand that the method you choose can affect the student's final grade.

    For AAStudent #1, Total Points will give the student an A, but Weighting Equally and Proportionally will give the student a B.

    For AAStudent #2, Weighting Proportionally will give the student a B but Weighted Equally or by Total Points will give the student a C.

    For AAStudent #3, Total Points is the difference between failing the class or passing the class if weighted Equally or Proportionally.

    Total Points is the fairest method and the easiest for the students to understand.


    Drop Lowest or Highest Grade(s)

    NOTE: For a "Total" column, in the Select Column section, click the radio button for Selected Columns and Categories to expand the section.

    In the Select Column section:

    1. Move the necessary Categories over to the "Selected Columns" box.

    2. The "Drop Grades" radio button should be selected by default. If it is not, select the radio button.

    3. Add the number of grades to be dropped in the "Drop" box for either Highest Grade or Lowest Grade.

      Drop lowest or highest grade

    4. Continue with the rest of the settings.

    5. Click Submit at the bottom of the page.

    Keywordsblackboard, black board, bb, Grade Center, gradebook, grades, grade, drop, drop grade, lowest grade, highest grade   Doc ID55361
    OwnerCenter I.GroupSouthern Illinois University Edwardsville
    Created2015-08-18 16:17:08Updated2024-03-04 15:26:33
    SitesSouthern Illinois University Edwardsville
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