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Re: Gradebook development

On Fri, Nov 13, 1998 at 02:47:19PM -0500, Doug Loss wrote:

>   Yes, gradebook programs are essentially database apps with
> lots of custom features.

True. Note: elementary schools in BC Canada have to produce "anecdotal
reports - which means report cards filled with commentaries about what a
student has mastered and what s/he is challenged to continue trying to
master and what means should be used to accomplish that ... letter grades
are not introduced until grade6 in the elementary school I am associated

So "jar", the name of the report card generator I just finished writing,
builds text databases made up of comment codes or PLO (prescribed learning
outcomes) codes associated to students in courses for a given term.  That
makes five fields: 

                   TERM, COURSE, LOGIN, PLOcode, COMMENT
where LOGIN is the login name in /etc/passwd of the student (since all
students get a linux account) and COMMENT is a free field for adding stuff
like the name of a story book the student has read or a letter grade or
whether the PLOcode was mastered or is still a challenge to be met.

jar uses RCS to automatically backup each teacher's operations and rdb
(debian package nsq "no-sql"), a relational database done entirely on text
files using the fundamental unix philosophy principles.  When it comes time
to generate report cards, jar concatenates the text databases ~/.jardata.*
from all staff home directories and creates a proper looking report card
using the typesetting program LaTeX or in plain html for easy emailing or
pre-viewing.  All menus are done in pdmenu, selection in iselect and dialog.

> program.  I'm thinking of something where the individual teachers'
> gradebook records are collated along with attendance records,

I used a simple perl script to convert the attendance data from the
dos-based school management software to the jar format described above.

> disciplinary records, etc. to provide the report cards for the period. 
> All of this could be done over the network automatically.

Teachers can access jar via hyperterminal by modem, or via telnet from their
various dos/win3.11/win95/mac/linux workstations.  This version of jar is
just now being used for the first time by 10 teachers for the end of november
report cards.

I will post jar, jaq and taq on to http://ess.vancouver.bc.ca this sunday
for your perusal.  It is all GNU/GPL of course.  I have called this whole
project of free software (logiciels libres in french) "gnuedu" but I don't
know if permission is needed from the FSF.  I also make use of the ministry
of Education's 6000 elementary PLOs and while that is definitively free to
use for BC teachers, I don't know the legal status of using that data
universally (it needs to be cleared up before we can truly call this open
source/ free software).