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The GetGrades Software Package:

Setting Up a Spreadsheet


        The block of data that is processed by “Post Grades” must have the following format:  the first row contains format codes, the second contains test item descriptions (which are displayed on the web pages), and the third is the start of student scores, one student per row.  The first column of the scores data block must contain the students’ passwords.  The next column or two contain students’ names, and the following columns contain score information.


        The Post Grades program requires four input items.  It saves mouse clicking to put these on a separate sheet, which I label “Post Grades”.  (A sheet can be renamed just by double clicking on its name at the bottom of Excel.)  Labels may be added for convenience:

worksheet name

range to save


Histogram name

10-11 AM





·        The worksheet name is the name of the sheet containing the data block to be processed. 

·        The range to save is the range of the data block.  Its format is address of top left cell : address of bottom right cell.  The top row refers to row containing the format codes.  The bottom row is the last student in the course.  The left column is the password column.  The right column is the last column of scores to process.  The data block to be processed may be located anywhere on a spreadsheet.

At the bottom of your scores, you probably list the test averages.  If the range to save erroneously contains these rows, the course scores distribution will be incorrectly calculated.  Therefore, when a student drops and you delete his or her row from the spreadsheet, the “range to save” parameter should be changed. 

·        The saved files will have names ending in “.txt”.  If you leave off the “.txt”, the program will add it for you.  (All the filenames in the cgi files ended in “.txt”.)  The first filename is for the file containing student scores.  Do not include a path in these names.

·        The entry under “Histogram name” is the filename of the course scores distribution file.  If this parameter is blank, no course scores distribution will be displayedon the web (the link to the scores distribution page will not displayed).  Not displaying the distribution may be appropriate if you have, say, only 4 people in the course.

The cell containing the worksheet name must be selected in order for the “Post Grades” program to process the data.  It makes no difference if the other three cells are also selected   I occasionally run the program without selecting the proper cell; the program provides a warning message when I do that.  (If you do Visual Basic Programming, be sure the “Break on all errors” option isn’t selected.) 

Multiple data blocks may be specified at one time.  Enter the four parameters for each block (all the blocks must be in the same workbook).  Then select at least the first column of each block you want to process.



As mentioned above, the second column of a data block contains students’ names:  whole names, or first names, or last names.  The default is for this column to contain the students’ last names.  If the second column contains the students’ whole names, make the first letter of that column’s format code a “w” or “W”.  (Yes, score data will then start in the third column instead of the fourth.)  If the third column contains last names, make the first letter of that column’s format code an “l” or “L”. 


        The format of test items appearing on the “Student’s Score” page is determined by the format codes in the columns containing test items.  The possible format codes are given in the following table.  Lowercase and uppercase codes differ in that the description is displayed in a bold font if the code is uppercase.  I use the lowercase codes for quizzes, tests and lab reports, and the uppercase codes for the total of all quizzes, total of all…etc.  “f” and “F” display items in a larger font size.  I use “f” for the final total score in the course, and “F” for the final grade in the course.  Only the first letter of the format codes is used for displaying the item, so instead of q, you could enter quiz as a format code.  The format codes only affect the formatting, so feel free to use, e.g., "q" for a test score column instead of a quiz, if you'd rather have green test scores.


If you want to have a column ignored, give it a format code of 0, or just leave the format code cell blank.  When you set up your spreadsheet at the start of the semester, you can choose a “range to save” that includes as many columns as you expect to use.  Just leave the format codes blank until the columns contain information you want the students to see.


If, for some reason, you don’t want to provide a frequency distribution plot of a particular test item, make the last character of the format code a dash, “-“.  For example, a code of “Test-“ above the “Test 3 over Children’s books” column would display the scores in blue on the “Student’s Score” page; the distribution of scores for “Test 3 over Children’s books” would be omitted from the “Score Distribution” page.  A dash used as the format code for the password column will do the same thing as leaving out the histogram filename:  no “Scores Distribution” page will be available.  The cell for the password format code may also contain a message (which must be longer than three characters) to all the students.  Such a message will appear at the bottom of the “Student’s Score” page.  (A dash at the end of the message will still suppress the “Scores Distribution” page.  The dash will not be displayed.)


A message to individual students is entered in a note column, having a code of “n” or “N”.  If text is present in a note column, it is displayed on the “Student’s Score” page after the scores (and after any comment to the entire class).  Several note columns may be present.  For example, you could have a note column after every test to record excused absences in.  All of a student’s notes are joined together into one large note.


Table of the Format Codes

Code used only in column 2:

[w or W]

Whole name (both first and last names) is in column 2.  In this case, scores may start in the third column, rather than the fourth.

Code used only in column 3:

[l or L]

Last name is in this column.  If last names are in column 2, an L in that column is unnecessary.

Codes Affecting How Scores are Displayed



Format Code

Appearance of Scores Column



Appearance of Description Column

[p or unrecognized character]





homework, gray score background



Lab, yellow background



quiz, green background



test, blue background



Plain Bold



Homework bold



Lab, bold



Quiz bold



Test bold



final score, larger font



Final, larger and bold

Other Codes

[0 or blank]

Scores in this column will be skipped.


A dash may be the last (or only) character in a format code.  It will cause the column to be omitted from the “Scores Distribution” page.  A dash as the last character in the password column will prevent the histograms page from displaying.

  [n or N]

A note to an individual student.  Multiple notes are concatenated and printed after the table.



Description               Download & Installation               Setting Up a Spreadsheet



Page last updated on May 5, 2005.  Send comments to Chris King.