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SPARK to SPIRE Grade Upload F.A.Q.

Note: This document is no longer current. It is published for informational purposes.

The SPARK to SPIRE Grade Upload is an optional process that makes it easier to submit grades to the registrar by transferring final grades from SPARK's Grade Book into SPIRE. You do not need to use SPARK for any other part of your class.

Why should I use the SPARK to SPIRE Grade Upload?

SPARK provides a secure connection to SPIRE and options for grade upload and management. Consider the Grade Upload if:

  • You need to submit grades for a very large class (100 or more students)
  • You already calculate grades in Excel (or similar software)
  • You want to simplify the collection and reporting of grades from your TAs
  • You already use SPARK for your class

Do I have to use this process to get my grades into SPIRE?

No, this process is optional. You can always enter your grades into SPIRE manually.

How does the upload process work?

First, you must have a SPARK course, and be signed up for the upload process. You then calculate students' final grades using the SPARK Grade Book or upload them into the Grade Book from MS Excel, Access, or any other grade management tool.

Grades will be transferred from the SPARK Grade Book into SPIRE every night starting the first day of final exams until the night before grades are due at the registrar. All you have to do then is review and approve the grades in SPIRE to complete the process. To get started, see our SPARK to SPIRE Grade Upload Overview, then follow our Grade Upload Instructions.

Is this the best way for me to upload my grades?

To assess whether it will be easier to enter the grades by hand or to move the grades through SPARK, consider the following questions:

  • Are you comfortable with managing data (import, export, comma delimited files) in Excel, FileMaker, Access, or other spreadsheet/data software?
  • Are you already using SPARK for grade management?
  • What is the size of your class?

If you answered yes to the first two questions above, then transferring your grades from SPARK to SPIRE would be worth your time, even if you have a small class.

If you answered no to the first two questions, you might want to consider entering your grades by hand, even if you have a large class.

Your class size is also an important consideration, since this method can simplify the grade upload process for large courses. If you teach large classes regularly, it might be a good idea to sign up and learn to transfer your grades from SPARK to SPIRE.

How do I sign up?

Before you jump into the SPARK to SPIRE Grade Upload, review the information in our SPARK to SPIRE Grade Upload Overview. It will help you decide whether this process is right for you. You can then follow our step-by-step Grade Upload Instructions to sign up and complete the process.
Note: In order to participate in the SPARK to SPIRE Grade Upload process, you must have or request a SPARK course for your class by Monday, December 6, 2010, then sign up for grade upload in SPIRE no later than Friday, December 10, 2010.

Once I sign up, can I change my mind?

If you have signed up for SPARK to SPIRE Grade Upload and then change your mind, you can cancel the process in SPIRE before the grade upload period begins (the first day of finals). If you wish to cancel the grade upload after finals have begun, you need to withdraw by sending a message to instruct@oit.umass.edu.

What is the Grade Upload schedule?

Our SPARK to SPIRE Grade Upload Overview includes the full Grade Upload Schedule.

Remember, once you sign up for grade upload, your students' grades will be transferred from SPARK into SPIRE every day at midnight during the grade upload period (from the first day of finals until the night before grades are due). They will be ready for you to approve in SPIRE after 8 a.m. the following morning.

How can I work with my TAs on the SPARK to SPIRE Grade Upload?

Please bring your TA(s) to trainings or have them read our SPARK grade upload documentation. Also, make sure your TA(s) have Section Designer privileges, not just TA privileges in SPARK. Otherwise, they will not be able to upload grades into SPARK. To request Section Designer access for your TAs, make sure they are listed as Teaching Assistants or Student Assistants (SPARK-Only) in SPIRE, then submit our Special Accounts Request Form.

Note: The fact that your TAs have Section Designer access to your SPARK course does not mean that they'll be able to approve grades in SPIRE. Only the Instructor of Record (whose name appears listed in SPIRE) can approve grades once they are transferred from SPARK into SPIRE.

Where can I get help with the Grade Upload?

For more information about the grade upload process, see our SPARK to SPIRE Grade Upload Overview. You should also make sure you follow our step-by-step Grade Upload Instructions to the letter to avoid any issues.

For assistance with the SPARK Grade Book or with the grade upload process, contact the Instructional Media Lab (instruct@oit.umass.edu or 545-2823) with questions or to make an appointment. The Media Lab, is located at A205 LGRC (Lederle Graduate Research Center) and is open Monday - Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.