As a teacher I find using spreadsheets to keep track of student progress/grades very useful. They are infinitely more flexible than the programs designed for tracking grades, especially the one used by our school district. Using a spreadsheet allows me to:
Unfortunately, using a conventional spreadsheet makes communicating grades to my students impossible. However, by attaching a simple web app to a Google sheet, I can allow each user to view their grades (and only their grades) in minute detail in almost real time.
For those of you who are not programmers, you should probably work through at least a portion of the following Khan Academy courses:
To get started, work through my video tutorial: How to Create a Simple Gradebook Web App. I've posted my code below, but you'll need to watch the video to understand how it works and how to use it.
Now you have all the tools of a spreadsheet at your disposal when grading. You can filter data, you can find a specific student quickly by using Ctrl+F. You can use vlookup functions to extract data imported from other websites. The possibilities are endless.
In addition to tracking progress/grades, you can also use your gradebook spreadsheet to track behaviors, such as whether students come to class prepared. Start by creating a Google Form. Make sure to check the "Collect email address" option.
Here's an app I made for my school district's tech expo using a Google spreadsheet: Mat-Su Tech Expo