By Kristi Hagen
You have many options available to you when it comes to grading your kids. Some parents prefer to stick to the familiar letter-grades and percentage points because it makes sense to them or maybe their state requires it. Others rely on a portfolio system or simply hand out home-made awards and certificates. And then there are those parents who believe a job well-done and a concept learned is enough reward for their kids and steer clear of grades altogether. What kind of homeschooler are you?
If you've decided to keep grades - or maybe your state requires that you show them graded progress at the end of the year, you may be wondering how to get started. How do those teachers come up with A’s and B’s anyway? Here’s a quick guide to recording grades:
- Grading a Worksheet: Simply divide the number of problems correct by the total number of problems. For example, if the page has 14 problems and your child got 12 correct, divide 12 by 14 to get .857, or 86%. Download a free chart to translate percentages into letter grades from this page of homeschool printables.
- Grading an Essay: Grading an essay or project can be much trickier because you're not dealing with a simple correct or incorrect answer. In these cases, you need to clearly explain to your child what you will expect from them and then decided how close to that expectation they've come. Rubrics are a great way to grade written essays. Rubrics break down every element that is being considered and assigns points to each. Click here for some sample rubrics.
- Grading an Entire Year of Work: Your state may require that you show them grades for an entire year (or quarter or semester) of work. In this case, all you do is record the percentage points for each worksheet, quiz, or test, then at the end of the year simply add up the points and divide by the total number of assignments. For example, if you assigned 10 worksheets, 6 quizzes, and 4 tests, just add up the points and divide by 20. Once you have a final percentage score, consult our grades chart above to convert to a letter grade.
Portfolios are a great way to keep track of your child’s progress. Some homeschoolers keep portfolios for their own records and others are required to by their state. There are usually four main aspects to a portfolio system:
- Journal: Keep a record of your child’s homeschool lessons in a journal. This can be as brief or as detailed as you want it to be, but be sure to write something every day or you might forget what you covered. This journal is also a good place to set goals for the upcoming year and record which text books (if any) you plan to use.
- Photo Album: Take pictures of field trips, homeschool support group meetings, competitions, projects, etc.
- Sample Papers: You can either keep all of your child’s completed papers in a large file box or simply save representative pieces throughout the year in a three-ring binder.
- Summary: Most state reviewers want a summary of what your child has accomplished over the year and it can be helpful for you as well.
Whether you're keeping grades, portfolios, or nothing at all, kids still love to receive home-made awards and certificates to commemorate a job well done. Check out this page of homeschool printables to find printable Awards for Kids.
A Note on Content Standards
So what is a grade, anyway? Well, if you think about it, it's an indication of how close your child has met a standard. But who sets that standard? Most public schools follow set lesson plans called Content Standards and many homeschoolers follow the same standards because they want to make sure that their kids are "keeping up" with the public schools.
Content standards are an official guide to what children of certain age groups should be taught. Every state has different standards and every private or charter school in each state uses the standards differently. Every state will set up their standards in a way they feel is best. To get a copy of your state's content standards, call your local or district superintendent's office. Tell them that you're a homeschooling parent and you're looking for easy to read content standards for your state. What you'll most likely get is a binder of somewhere between thirty to fifty pages.
Use content standards as the wonderful resource tool they are. See them as the compass pointing you in the right direction, but remember that they're by no means an outline of what you have to teach your child. They can just help you to be certain that something important isn't being left out of your children's education.
Kristi Hagen is a homeschooling parent and author of the popular Homeschool Book, "A Parent's Guide to Homeschool". She's also one of the editors of HomeschoolViews.com, which publishes an informative monthly Homeschool Newsletter.