How to Calculate Homeschool GradesPosted In Homeschool Assistance | Posted By Kristy Robins
Most homeschoolers enjoy having the freedom and flexibility to choose a schedule and curricula that fits the family perfectly. With that freedom comes the responsibility to keep accurate records. Finding a homeschool grading system that works for your family can be a challenge. It helps to be knowledgeable about your options as well as the benefits and drawbacks of each approach.
Requirements surrounding homeschool grading vary from state to state and may also change depending on the age of the student. In highly regulated states, a homeschool teacher may be required to submit letter grades. Other states specify that the teacher share a narrative evaluation of their students’ learning each quarter. Some states don’t require that homeschool teachers report grades at all. Be sure you know your state’s regulations regarding tracking and reporting your students’ progress.
Regardless of your state laws, record keeping is about more than satisfying state mandates. Assessments and grades allow your students to recognize whether they are meeting their learning goals. In addition, keeping track of your students’ progress gives you, the homeschool teacher, vital information for planning future lessons. The beauty of homeschooling is that each student’s learning plan can be fully individualized to reflect his or her needs. Knowing where your student stands allows you to know whether you need to slow down and re-teach a concept or speed up and move on to the next unit. While homeschool grading may not be your favorite part of homeschooling, it is very important. The good news is that you don’t have to be a math genius to calculate homeschool grades. Start by developing a basic understanding of the three most common assessment tools: checklists, rubrics, and letter grades.
Checklists are the simplest approach to assessing your homeschooled child. As the name suggests, you make a list of skills or learning goals and check each one off as the student demonstrates mastery. This method works best for elementary and middle school students, but checklists can also be adapted for high school students. Homeschool teachers love them because they are so easy to use and fully customizable. Using checklists makes it a breeze to keep track of your child’s academic progress and to encourage positive habits and character development.
The only downside is that checklists are not as useful for high school-aged children. As the teen years approach, the yes/no nature of the checklist is a bit too simplified because it doesn’t measure the extent or depth of the knowledge or skills. While checklists are a handy self-assessment tool for high school students, teachers at this level generally want to give more specific feedback on formal assignments. Luckily there are other tools a homeschool teacher can apply when a more exact evaluation is needed.
Rubrics allow for more nuanced appraisal of a student’s learning than checklists. This scoring tool lists criteria for assignments such as projects, essays, or presentations and describes various levels of quality for each of the criteria. These levels might be assigned a point value (4,3,2,1) or a description (excellent, good, fair, poor). They are more time consuming to use, but the extra information they provide makes it well worth it.
Rubrics are helpful for both teachers and students of all grade levels and can be used to improve drafts and to evaluate final products. They allow teachers to communicate the extent of the student’s success on each aspect of the assignment. For instance, a teacher might rate a student’s composition as “excellent” in grammar and spelling but only “fair” in organization. The ability to score each component or criterion separately helps both the teacher and student identify strengths and areas of improvement. The teacher can use that information to inform future lessons.
The student can use the rubric to self-assess his or her work before turning it in to the teacher. Because the rubric conveys exactly what the teacher will be evaluating, it makes it easier for the student to see the assignment through the teacher’s perspective. Checking his or her own work with the rubric allows the student to figure out what the teacher will focus on when grading the assignment and to make improvements or corrections accordingly. Once the assignment is graded by the teacher, the student can use the feedback from the rubric to create a new and improved draft of the assignment or simply to know what to focus on in future assignments.
Sample Rubric for Evaluating a Business Letter
Homeschool teachers use letter grades for a variety of reasons. Some states require the use of letter grades, especially for high school. If your child is college bound, they will need letter grades for their transcript as part of the admissions process. Yes, you may have to get out your calculator, but don’t worry. Letter grades are not difficult to figure once you get the hang of it!
Letter grades are based on percentages . That means you will need to convert each assignment grade into a percentage. The easiest way to do it is by adding up all the correctly answered questions and then dividing that number by the total number of questions. Take the quotient, and multiply it by 100 to get the percentage grade.
For example, let’s say a student gets 18 questions correct on a 20 question assignment.
- First divide the number of correct answers by the total number of questions (18/20=.90)
- Then multiply the answer to the previous step by 100 or simply move the decimal two spaces to the right (.90 x 100=90)
The next part is easy – you simply use a grading scale to convert the percentage to a letter grade. A grading scale sets a range of percentile scores for each letter grade. For instance, in the first sample grading scale below, 90% – 100% equals an A. Grading scales can vary. The teacher is free to create the grading scale as he or she sees fit. Check out the samples below to get ideas.
Sample Grading Scale
90 -100% = A
80 – 89% = B
70 -79% = C
60 – 69% = D
0 – 59% = F
Sample Grading Scale
90 -100% = A
80 – 89% = B
75 – 79% = C
70 – 74% = D
0 – 69% = F
Homeschool Grading Tips
Both teacher and students should keep a daily planner or use a calendar app to keep track of learning goals and accomplishments. Keeping track of the students’ learning and assignments helps you stay on target and provides a record of your hard work. Have fun with it! Make it a tradition for each child to pick out or to make a planner at the beginning of each school year. Let them decorate it with stickers, drawings, favorite quotes, or anything that motivates them. Dream big as you set goals at the beginning of the year, and feel the sense of accomplishment as you reach each one.
Create a Rewards System
Whether you have younger students or older students, kids respond well to rewards. Younger students will do almost anything for the privilege of choosing something from the prize box. Fill a prize box with bouncy balls, fun erasers, small rubber duckies, or anything you think will appeal to your students. You don’t have to break the bank to find prizes your kids will love. Older kids need a different set of rewards. They are motivated by experiences. Extra video game time, a Youtube break (channels must be approved by you!), or a trip to the skate park tend to work well for ‘tweens and teens. Reward your students for their hard work and/or good behavior to keep them focused on their goals.
Grade as Teacher
When you’re wearing your “teacher hat,” it can be difficult to put aside your parental emotions. You must maintain objectivity when you are grading assignments. Students need your honesty in order to improve. Provide accurate assessments of their work so that they build the necessary academic skills. That doesn’t mean you can’t also praise their effort as you offer constructive criticism and maintain high standards.
Consider a Grading Service for Difficult Subjects
Just like students, homeschool teachers have their own strengths and weaknesses. If the thought of evaluating your students’ writing gives you anxiety, you might consider choosing a curriculum that offers a grading service. That way your child will get the detailed feedback he or she needs to improve, and you will get more time to focus on planning quality lessons. Some homeschool teachers find that their teens respond better to writing coaching that comes from an outside source instead of their parents.