January 22, 2018

Assigning Grades and a Free Grading Rubric

We are now halfway through the school year and I’d like to talk with you about assigning grades.  One of the bad raps that homeschoolers get from the outside world is that our students all earn A’s because mom is assigning the grades.  And while we know this isn’t always true (sometimes it actually is), we also know that as a group, we can be all over the place when it comes to consistency in evaluating our students’ work. Using a scoring sheet (grading rubric) can be very helpful and I have included one that I developed – feel free to download and use it!

Grading Rubric

Grade consistently and fairly by using a grading rubric.

Of course, we all know that learning is not all about the grades.  Grades are an arbitrary way of evaluating a student’s work – and God has given each of us different strengths – not all of which are academic.  Our focus really should not be only on our student’s grades but if your student is college bound – it is important that our transcripts and GPA reflect an accurate representation of their ability.

Some grades are easy to calculate.  For example, when grading a math paper or a set of questions at the end of the chapter you can count the number of right answers and divide that by the total number of answers to get the percentage grade.  Some grading however is not as easy to do.  For instance, how do you know what an ‘A’ paper looks like for an English class?   One of the best ways to grade projects or other subjective pieces of work is to establish a rubric system.  Before the project or paper is even started make a list of items that you expect to see in the finished project.  These can be things like proper grammar, good transitions, creative use of verbs, three examples, etc.  Since I teach science, I require students to complete a science project and to help them as they prepare, I give them a copy of the final scoring sheet.  This way, they know what to include and I also have a way to establish a fair grade for everyone.  Feel free to download a copy of that scoring sheet.  Just click on the link below:

Score Sheet – Science Project

And, finally, how do you grade work that isn’t written?  For example, you want to give your student credit for Ballet classes that they are taking, yet there is no textbook or objective way to evaluate your student’s work.  So, similar to a rubric – at the beginning of the year sit down with your student (and their instructor if they have one) and determine what you would like to see in the coming year if the student is to earn an ‘A’.  You can establish goals to be achieved or levels of work to be completed for each letter grade.  Then, once a quarter evaluate your student’s progress towards these goals and determine what grade they earned for each quarter.

I want to encourage you to be as realistic as possible with your student’s grades.  Again, it is definitely not all about the grades – but when your student moves out of your house and begins to be evaluated by a college professor or an employer, they will benefit by the bar that you set for them.  If you set the bar high – they will aim high.  And their expectations will be realistic.

Keeping up with grading your student’s work can be time-consuming, but it is beneficial to your student to know how they are progressing – especially in high school when grades and GPA count – so establish a system that works for you to be sure that work is evaluated on a timely basis.

And one last point – the goal of education is to master a subject.  If your student is earning a “D” or lower, they have not mastered the material.  Feel free to back up and do it again – perhaps approaching it from a different angle.

~to your success


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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