Some staff embrace grading app

After unforeseen issues with the school Scantron machine during the week of semester finals in January, many teachers were left scrambling to grade tests and give students their final grades. However, social studies teachers Melissa Rogers and Traci Lake were not among them.

The two teachers utilize a unique and innovative grading method, an app called ZipGrade. The app is composed of a simple process: print out answer sheets from the app’s website, create the key within the app, scan student’s answers with an Android or iOS device, and give students instant feedback.

“I found out about ZipGrade from a conference I attended back in the fall of 2015 and chose it as my door prize,” Rogers said. “I was intrigued because it would save me time in not having to go downstairs to the Scantron machine any time I needed to grade a make-up test and because it would allow me to give students immediate feedback on their assessment.”

While Rogers has been using ZipGrade to grade tests since 2015, Lake learned about the technology from Rogers at the end of last school year.

“It seemed like a more efficient way to not only grade assessments but to also be able to get instant feedback on student progress and be able to use that to support students by tweaking lessons as needed right after the assessment rather than a day or two later,” Lake said.

“There is a great deal of convenience with ZipGrade, even aside from not having to go to the Scantron machine any time I needed to grade. I can grade right from my phone or iPad and at home in sweatpants if I so choose.” Rogers said. “I can easily correct any miskeys without having to run the sheets through the machines again or having to hand grade, not having to make sure I get to the library before it closes to be able to access the machine.”

In addition to the obvious efficiency, the app also provides instant data analysis for each test or quiz question, showing how many students missed each question or how popular other answers were, allowing teachers to tailor their lessons to meet students’ needs.

The app seems like an easy fix to the process of grading by Scantron, the traditional method which includes bringing answer sheets to a machine which grades papers, but the app still has not reached many teachers within the building.

Rogers, a firm believer in the use of ZipGrade, has tried to promote it at recent professional development days, but only a handful of people attended. Rogers believes that the $7.99 annual charge for the app may have put teachers off, but notes that the school district will reimburse teachers for the cost, which is something that is not often done when teachers purchase new materials for their classes.

As for teachers who have not yet made the switch to the innovative system and continue to stick with the traditional routes, Rogers said, “With the workload and stress that accompanies teaching, I find this app to be one that saves me a lot of time and sanity. By taking care of ourselves, it allows us to better meet the needs of our students.”

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