Blackboard / Assessment

Grade Center 411 – Set up the Blackboard Grade Center

Expand the topics below to set up a Blackboard grade center that will be easy to use.

Create Your Total Column

Have a copy of your Syllabus with Grade Table handy to guide your Grade Center development. The first thing you need to know in order to set up your total column is whether you will use a points based total or a weighted total. Learn about both below:

The number and point values of individual course activities determine their weight towards the final grade calculation. Here’s a sample point weight grading table: Points based grading table Grading table based on points per item This mathematically straightforward system is clear and simple, however, changing or removing activities will require revising the grade table and point totals in your syllabus.

The Category of activity determines the weight towards the final grade calculation. Here’s a sample category weight grading table: Category weight grading table Weights are assigned to categories in this grading table This flexible system allows the number of individual activities and their point values within a category to be changed at any time in the term.

Ready to create your totals column? Follow the link to create one based on your grade system:

Best Practices for Arranging the Grade Center

Create course activities using Bb discussion, assignment or other tools. Anything with points automatically creates a column which populates the Grade Center.


Let’s say you want to create weekly graded discussion activities. Go to the Discussion Board, create a forum, title it and include points. You can create all the discussions in advance (hiding future weeks) or create them as you go. Each forum will add a column to the grade center.

How to create a discussion on the discussions page
Create a discussion

For all activities created using Bb tools, maintain short, clear naming conventions so Grade Center column titles are consistent and readable:

Readable: Wk.1 Case Study – Ethics

Won’t Fit: First Week Case Study, Ethics in and Around the Workplace

Column names can be changed from the grade center, but the new title is only visible to instructors.

  • Select Column Action link
  • Choose Edit Column Information
screen shot of edit column with highlighted text
Create a discussion

  • Item Name- Automatically generated by the activity.
  • Change by editing the tool–Test, Discussion, Assignment
  • Grade Center name – Editable in Grade Center, but only seen by instructor
Screenshot of column configuration with highlighted name box
Create a discussion

With several weeks of representational graded activities created—tests, assignments, discussions—arrange the corresponding columns in the Grade Center.

  • Go to full Grade Center
  • Select Manage
  • Column Organization.
Screenshot of manage dropdown with column org. highlighted
Create a discussion
  • Use the Show me how this screen works button
  • Drag columns with handles
Screenshot of Column Organization configuration screen with Show Me button and drag feature highlighted
Create a discussion

Organization Strategies

There are many ways to organize your columns. The two most useful to students are Chronological and Categorical.

Screen shot of activities organized by week
Chronological: Activities organized first by chronology then category
Screenshot of activities organized by category
Categorical Order: The same activities organized first by category then chronology

There are two ways to hide columns. One hides from Grade Center & instructor, the other hides from students. Confusing these can wreak havoc.

Hiding from Grade Center

Not recommended for any columns with the exception of unused institutional columns.

  1. In Manage/Column Organization
  2. Select columns
  3. Choose Show/Hide
  4. Hide selected
Screenshot of hiding selected grade columns
Hide selected grade center columns

Hiding Columns from students

Hiding columns from students is a recommended practice for unreleased activity and assignment columns. Seeing the entire Grade Center before seeing the coursework can be overwhelming to online students and result in unnecessary emails to instructors.

  • Select column action link
  • Choose Hide from students
  • Confirm column is hidden
Screenshot of column configuration drop down with hide from students highlighted
Hide selected grade center columns from students

External Grade Column

The External Grade (green check) column may be seen in areas of Blackboard outside your course. Only one column from the Grade Center can be set as external.

  1. Select Column Action Link
  2. Choose Set as External Grade
  3. Confirm Column has green check
Screenshot of column configuration with highlighted set as external grade
Set an external grade column

Extra Total and Weighted total Columns

When courses are copied from term to term, Blackboard automatically generates a a new Total column (defaulted to be set as External grade) and weighted total column, not taking into account your real (correct) total column for each course. In your new term ID Shell, enter the Grade Center and reset your original, accurate total column as External Grade before deleting the new auto-generated Total Column and Weighted Total Column.

  • Delete (don’t hide) any extra Total columns
  • Select column action link
  • Choose delete
Screenshot of column configuration dropdown with highlighted delete
Delete extra Totals columns

If you don’t have the option to delete a column, see Deleting Grade Center Columns

Deleting columns in the grade center is a quick process with the exception of the following:

  • The External column
  • Columns that were generated by a tool with points

To delete the External column

  • Set another column as External
  • Delete unwanted column
Screenshot of column configuration dropdown with highlighted set to external
Delete unwanted columns

Delete Other Columns

Columns that have been generated by creating a graded activity can’t be deleted on their own. This protects columns associated with student work and scores. To remove an unwanted column associated with an activity, the activity must be deleted. In the screenshot, you can see the column doesn’t offer the delete option. It was auto-generated by a Bb activity with points.

Screenshot of column configuration dropdown no delete choice available
Column with no delete option available

To delete columns auto-generated from a Bb tool (Assignment, Test, Discussion, etc) :

  • Find the assignment (here it’s a Discussion)
  • Delete the assignment. You’ll be prompted to delete the grade column. (Note that if any student activity has taken place, submissions and scores will also be deleted, so beware.)
Screenshot of forum action link dropdown with delete highlighted
Delete auto-generated columns

Instructors teaching F2F courses may assign in-class activities that are turned in offline. In order to to track scores and align outcomes for these activities, it’s easy to create Grade Center columns.

To create columns for F2F activities

  • Go to Full Grade Center
  • Select Create Column
Screenshot of column Grade Center Create Column
In full grade center, create column

Configure column for F2F activities

  • Name column
  • Set display and points or link rubric
  • Set due date
Screenshot of column configuration
Set column, name, display, points and due dates

Align outcomes to column

  • Click Action link
  • Add outcome alignments
Screenshot of column dropdown with alignments highlighted
Click column action link, add alignments.

Sort and Grade

  • Click column name at top to toggle sort
  • Click in cell to enter score
Screenshot of grade center with cell highlighted
Click column name at top to toggle sort. Click in cell to enter score.
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