How to Calculate Final Grades in Blackboard Learn

Your “Total (External Grade)” column should reflect your course’s final grade. To make sure it’s accurate at the end of the quarter, make sure to follow either of these two options for calculating zeros in your gradebook.

You need to “deal with” empty cells in your gradebook. A “no grade” box won’t count against a student unless you manually enter a zero (just type one in the cell) or turn off “calculate as running total” in your total column. Here’s more information on the two options you have to ensure that your final grade calculations are correct when it comes to un-submitted activities.

Option 1: Manually Enter Zeros

Blackboard doesn’t automatically treat ungraded items as zeros, so a “no grade” for an activity doesn’t count against a student. A student could have turned just one activity in the whole course and appear to have an A in the total column if you did not manually enter zeros for all the activities the student did not complete.

To make sure you avoid this, make sure you manually enter zeros for all activities without attempts — all no turn-ins, etc. To do this, look for the no grade symbol (–) in the full grade center. If the student deserves a zero, click in the cell and type a 0. If you don’t do this, the denominator in the total column isn’t accurate — a student must have a grade (even if its 0) for every activity at the end of the quarter.

That is, unless you turn the total’s calculate as running total setting to no, which is like ANGEL’s treat ungraded items as zeros setting. That’s option 2.

Option 2: Turn “Calculate as Running Total” to No

If you want your students to, essentially, start their quarter with a zero grade and work their way up — or if you’re at the end of the quarter and have graded everything that you’re going to grade — you can turn “calculate as running total” off in your total/final grade column.


Just go to the Full Grade Center and edit column information for this (or any other calculated) column. Personally, I think it makes more sense to keep this on (select “yes”), but, to keep that total accurate throughout the quarter, it does mean that the instructor has to go in and give zeros to students who don’t turn anything in for a given activity.


Alex is online course support technician at IDS, working to support all online, hybrid and LMS-enhanced instructors and students in using Blackboard and several media servers. She's also the administrator for the MCC Blogs network. You can reach her at

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Posted in Blackboard, Blackboard Learn for instructors

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