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Blackboard Help

Best Practice: Grading With JAWS

The information below applies to Blackboard Learn with the Original experience.

Access the Grade Center

Doesn't seem familiar? Jump to the "Ultra" help about accessing grades.

You access the Grade Center from the Control Panel. Select heading 4 link for the Grade Center then select Full Grade Center. After the Grade Center loads select the Turn Screen Reader Mode on link. Press Insert + T to see if Screen Reader Mode is active.

You will need to turn screen reader mode on each time you load Blackboard Learn.

The main feature and default view of the Grade Center is a table. The rows of this table correspond to individual students, except for the top-most row. The columns correspond to gradable items, such as assignments and tests.

Press Alt + Ctrl + Left and Alt + Ctrl + Right to move between the different gradable items for a particular student.

The advantage to using these keys over tab and Shift+Tab is that you can clearly understand the bounds of each row.

More on navigating grading

Access column menus

Each top most row of a column in the Grade Center contains a graphic. The label of the graphic indicates if an assignment has been graded.

  • JAWS says "Click for More Options", if a grade can be changed.
  • JAWS says "No Grade", if an item can't be graded.

The graphic also opens the column menu. Select the graphic in the top most row of a column to view details about that column (if it is a survey, assignment, test, and so on) or to edit it.

If focus doesn't automatically jump to the list of links for commands after you’ve selected a link in this row, press Ctrl + End to jump to the bottom of the document. You will find them there.

More on grade columns

Create average column

  1. In the Grade Center, select the Create Column link.
  2. Use the Down arrow to find and select the Create Calculated Column heading level 2.
  3. Use the Down arrow key to find and select Average Column.
  4. Type a brief name. The name becomes the column name in the Grade Center and on students’ My Grades pages.
  5. Press Tab to move through the few next fields on this page. This also helps avoid the formatting controls for the Description text box.
  6. When you've reached a radio button which reads All Grade Columns, you have entered the Select Columns section. If you want to pick the columns and categories to include, Use the Down arrow to select Selected Columns and Categories.
  7. Press Tab once to land on the Columns to Select list box.
  8. Press and hold the Ctrl key down. Use the Up and Down arrow keys to move through the list items. Press Ctrl + Space to select an item. Press Ctrl + Space again to deselect an item.

    Once the list box is focused and forms mode is active, hold the control key down while using the arrow keys to move through the items in this list. Notice that JAWS announces "Not Selected" before almost all of the items. Press Ctrl+Space to select an item. It is important to hold down Ctrl when using the arrow keys to move up and down within this list. Pressing the up or down arrow keys without holding Ctrl moves to and selects the next item, while deselect all of the items that were previously selected.

  9. After you've selected your columns, press Tab once and select Move selected Columns Over to add them to this new column's calculation.
  10. Turn off forms mode and use the arrow keys to move through the page. This helps you better understand the next few fields that deal with the calculation. Press the Space bar to check the radio buttons options you want.
  11. You will eventually encounter the Categories list box. Add categories to this calculation by holding down Ctrl and using the arrow keys to move to its item. Press Ctrl + Space to select it. Tab to and select Move Selected Items Over to add it.
  12. Find and select Submit.

Create a grading schema

  1. In the Grade Center, select the Manage heading level 2. A menu of options appears.
  2. Press the Down arrow to find Grading Schemas. Select it.

    Grading Schemas are listed in a table of two columns: title and description.

  3. Select the Create Grading Schema link above the main table.
  4. Type a name for the grading schema.
  5. Press T to move to the Schema Mapping table and define the point ranges.

If you need to edit an existing schema, select the Options Menu: Title link in the Title column. A list of options appears at the bottom of the page.

More on grading schemas

Schema Mapping table

The Schema Mapping table has five columns.

  • Grades Scored Between: Use the edit fields in this column to define the lowest and highest scores in a range. The first row has edit fields for both the lower and upper values of the range. Additional rows have only one edit field. All edit fields in this column are labeled "Less than".
  • Will Equal: Use the edit field in this column to define what scores in the Grades Scored Between range equal.
  • Grades Manually Entered As: This column shows the same value as in the Will Equal column.
  • Will Calculated As: Use the edit field to defines the overall grade percentage.
  • Insert Rows: Select Insert New Row Here to add a row above the current row. The values in the original row is adjusted to work with the new row and values.

Use the JAWS table navigation commands, Alt + Ctrl + Arrow keys, to move between edit fields.


You have three grades defined in a schema: Excellent, Good, and Needs Improvement. You want to define two new grades: Very Good and Fail.

To create the Very Good grade, move to the Good row and press Alt + Ctrl + Shift + Right to jump to the the last column. The Insert Rows column. Select Insert New Row Here. Press Alt + Ctrl + Up to move to the row that has just been added. Use Alt + Ctrl + Left to move between the columns. Modifying the point values and name it "Very Good".

To create the Fail grade, press Alt + Ctrl + Shift + Down to jump to the last row. Press Alt + Ctrl + Shift + Right to jump to the Insert Rows column. Select Insert New Row Here. The last row of this table is the new Fail grade. The newly inserted row becomes Needs Improvement. Edit the values of the last row. Replace Needs Improvement with Fail in the Will Equal column. Press Alt + Ctrl + Up to move to the new row and define the values of Needs Improvement.