GradeA Mac Grading App

Version 2.0 of my Mac grading and attendance app, GradeA, is available in the Mac App Store (link) for $14.99 (USD). Versions 2.0 and higher run on both Snow Leopard (10.6), Lion (10.7), and Mountain Lion (10.8). Versions 2.0 and higher supports Auto Save and Versions on Lion.

As with all Mac App Store apps, it requires version 10.6.6. or higher of OS X. There is a demo version that is available for download for free. The demo version is limited to five students and five assessments, but should give you enough information to decide if you want to purchase the full version. Here is a page with links to the demo version, a sample data file, and sample CSV files for importing so you can see the file format. Also see the Help menu of the app for more information about importing CSV files. To try the demo version, download the file, unzip it, and drag the GradeA Demo.app file to your Applications folder. To experiment with it, you can either create your own document or download the sample data file and open it in the app. The bottom of this page contains screen shots. Clicking on each picture brings up a larger version of the image.

Features:

  • Document-based application (create separate files for each of your classes)
  • Import student data from a properly formatted CSV file (see Help menu for the format)
  • Custom categories (e.g., Homework, Quizzes, Labs, Exams)
  • Store comments for each student for each assessment
  • Custom mapping from numeric grades to letter grades
  • Option to drop a specified number of lowest grades per category
  • Three different grade calculation methods (weighted average of categories, total points, total points per category with weighted categories)
  • Email reports to students (or parents for K-12) using Mail.app (currently the only mail client supported)
  • Print individual reports to hand out to students
  • View/Edit grades by student (for changing a grade or going over grades with a student)
  • View/Edit grades by assessment (for entering a new assessment)
  • Undo support
  • Export a CSV file with all the data
  • Take attendance and merge your data with your iOS Attendance app (in version 2.0 of GradeA)
  • Includes user manual in the Help menu (available in the demo version also)

Some people may wonder why use the app instead of a spreadsheet. Some of the benefits of GradeA are:

  • no hand entering formulas and potentially making mistakes
  • dropping of lowest grades in a category is automatic and much simpler than trying to do in a spreadsheet
  • automated emailing of grades
  • easily print individual reports to hand out

Version 2.0 provides attendance functionality. It also provides the ability to import your Attendance records from my iOS Attendance app (available in the iTunes App Store). You can use GradeA just for grades, just for attendance, or for both. I'll be adding more information and videos about the new functionality once it is approved by Apple. I will also update the GradeA Demo version to 2.0 in the next few days.

As with my iOS Attendance app, I will use the following criteria to decide what new features to add to GradeA:

  1. Does it fit well with the main use of the app and would a number of people likely use the feature?
  2. Can I design a reasonable user-interface for the feature without making the app too difficult to learn to use?
  3. Is it something I have the time to implement right now?

The other question is whether or not to try to develop an iPad app that supports the same grading file format. The decision will depend on how well the Mac app sells, whether or not I think I can design a reasonable interface that is similar (so that people can use either one without needing to learn a very different interface), and how much time I have. There are already a few iOS grading apps and at least one of them looks fairly good, although I haven't purchased or tried any of them.

I priced the app at $15 range given that I will likely continue to add new features based on feedback from users and that there is a limited market for the app. I don't expect to sell more than a thousand copies the first year. After Apple's 30% cut and taxes that will result in about $5,000 for what has so far been about four months of full-time work. I will likely do what I did with the Attendance app and increase the price for new purchases slightly when I've added a significant number of new features. I am hopeful that the app will continue to sell at a reasonable pace so it will eventually be worth the effort. Of course, as with the iOS Attendance app, I wrote it because I wanted to use it. Apps such as grading apps and my iOS Attendance app do require more technical support compared to games and many other apps that require little or no technical support. If I price it much lower, I won't be able to justify spending my limited free time answering support email. I think $15-$20 is reasonable given the development and support time and the amount of use most teachers will get from it.

Here are some screen shots of version 1. Click on each image for the full-size version.