In this homeschool beginner’s guide to figuring grades, I’m sharing tips I didn’t know when I began.
Although I live in Texas where grade keeping is not required by state law, I started keeping grades before high school for two reasons.
One reason is that my teen wanted feedback. The second reason is that I wanted to know how to figure grades sooner instead of tackling it on top of learning how to homeschool high school.
Having homeschooled twenty-five years now, I see how figuring grades has changed in the public-school world.
It’s not that we want to keep up with public-school changes, but eventually our kids may be graded by those same standards. It’s important to be somewhat familiar with how to figure grades.
In addition, understanding how the public-school world decides grading gives us reason to not follow them because we don’t have a classroom of 30 kids.
It’s a conundrum to somewhat follow a similar pattern of grading with widely acceptable ways of determining grades while meeting our unique circumstances at home.
Look at these tried-and-true tips and pointers.
- First, I didn’t realize that public school teachers aren’t really taught how to grade. Sure, there are some exceptions to this. But several public-school teachers turned homeschool mom who took my workshops revealed that they didn’t really learn how to grade. It’s a skill they’re supposed to pick up while in training. You can do the same while homeschooling.
- Second, grading needs to be purposeful. It’s one thing for me to show you various grading scales, but another for you to wield the tool of grading effectively.
Reasons to Grade
So, beyond your state requiring it, grades should give valuable feedback to your children. Grades serve other reasons:
- they communicate what your children have learned,
- they give valuable feedback where your children are along the learning continuum, identify skills mastered and identify skills which need practice,
- and motivates students to grow and advance in proficiency.
Besides, if the grading tool is not created and wielded correctly, it can also have the reverse effect.
Homeschool Grades for Elementary Children
Once I realized balance was needed, I moved forward with these distinctions.
- In the elementary grades, a check system like satisfactory or unsatisfactory is perfectly acceptable.
- Trying to not follow public school standards in the early grades is important. Kids at that age are building their foundation of knowledge. To constantly test, quiz, and drill can be harmful to their confidence.
However, you may need a guide at this age. Below I will give you various grading scales to use for both elementary and middle and high school students.
In addition, high school is the time when grades become important. A lot of states have relaxed laws which means you create your own high school transcript and grading system. It’s important to become familiar now with easy ways to grade. I have a free editable transcript and helps for high school too at the bottom of this post.
Homeschool Grades for Middle and High School Teens
Next look at these two different, but easy ways to figure grades.
It’s also an easy way to quickly create grading standards. Letter grades are converted to numerical value or percentages.
This system is based on the thought that 100% means all answers are correct.
Afterwards, decide how to grade assignments based on a 100 percent.
Two Easy Ways to Figure Grades For Different Subjects
Look at these various examples of how categories of assignments are divided to see what I’m talking about:
- daily work 50%, quizzes 20%, projects 10%, and final test 10% = 100
- assessments 75%, practice 20%, and extra practice 5% = 100
- project 25%, quizzes 25%, test 50% = 100
From this you can tell grading is very subjective. You can apply equal percentages to types of assignments or different percentages like above.
Too, if you want a guide of what to teach your kid when, you’ll love my online self-paced course Teaching the Stages of Homeschool. From PreK to High School, Learn at a Bird’s-Eye View of What Subjects to Teach & When to Teach Them.
I am your coach as I take you though the ages and stages of homeschooling.
Furthermore, your grading form can list under each category the objectives or assignments.
Look at this sample below where I used Assessments, Practice, and Extra Practice breakdown from above.
|Assessments – 75%||Practice – 20%||Extra Practice – 5%|
|daily assignments||daily handwriting||typing|
|essays||create a lapbook||spelling game|
|book reports||science experiment||watching videos|
This is how I kept things easy. I decided what I wanted to grade (not grading everything) and which type of assignments or activities were more important to the subject we’re studying at the time.
It can feel a bit complicated in the beginning.
While some subjects are easier to grade than others, once you have the hang of it, just repeat the same percentages.
6 Easy Steps to Calculate Grades on Numbered Assignments
Also, look at my video How to Successfully Begin Homeschooling Middle & High School.
Additionally, some assignments are more straightforward to grade. Math is one type of subject which is easier to grade.
Here is how to easily grade an assignment like math which normally has a set number of problems like 20 or 30 problems.
- Correct any wrong answers on your child’s assignment.
- Look at the total number of problems on the assignment.
- Calculate the total number of problems correct.
- Divide the total number of correct answers by the total number of problems in the assignment.
- When you get that answer, multiply it by 100.
- Consult your grading scale to determine a letter grade if you want one. (I’ve shared grading scales below.)
Look at this real-life example from our math. The math assignment had 30 problems. My son missed 5 of the problems; he got 25 correct.
I divided 25 correct answers by 30 total number of problems which equals .83.
Next, multiply .83 x 100 or 83%. Finally, look for the percentage grading scale and find the corresponding letter grade if you’re keeping letter grades. Too, you’ll love this free EZ grader tool online tool.
As I mentioned, grading scales are subjective, but these are the two most common I’ve used in my homeschool. These grading scales can easily work for any grade level.
Easy Grading Scales For Homeschool
|90–100% = A||93–100% = A|
|80–89% = B||86–92% = B|
|70–79% = C||78–85% = C|
|60–69% = D||70–77% = D|
|below 59% = F||below 69% = F|
Noting the easy 6 steps above and based on my example about math, you can see that my student can make two different letter grades, namely a B or a C, depending on which grading scale I choose.
Now, let’s switch back to understanding the basics of percentages or the first method I mentioned.
In addition, look at my video How to Choose the BEST Middle School Literature for Your Homeschooled Child.
It’s important to understand how to categorize assignments using the 100 based system because some subjects or assignments especially like writing have very different objectives. Grading essays is an art and is subjective.
In addition to the different genres of writing, there are many skills to learn as your student demonstrates writing. Art is another subject that can be tough to grade. Those types of assignments do not have a set number of problems.
Because you have specific goals for your children to meet, the best method to grade those types of subjects are percentage based.
Tina’s Time -Tested EASY Grade Figuring Tips
You can literally get overwhelmed with all this information and I’m going to keep it easy for you.
I have used these three easy grading tips and recommend them to you.
- choose one grading scale and stick to it
- use third percentages (more on this in a minute) on writing and other subjects which are hard to grade like art, writing, hands-on projects, and life skills.
- use both grading systems to keep grading uncomplicated.
My own opinion is that the grading scale of 90 to 100%= A is more reflective of a wider range of skills and it’s the one I’ve used more often.
Also, when grading essays, writing, or any other type of subjective assignment I keep my percentages divided by thirds only.
Having only 3 broad categories with assigned percentages kept grading easier for me. Under each of those broad categories I created objectives.
Of course, you can use any combination of 100 to create your unique goals based on the needs of your children.
Back to mentioning thirds. I understand that 100 can be divided different ways and it has great flexibility. Again, I prefer easy segmenting and having objectives within those sections.
For example, with the free form below for descriptive writing, I have 3 segments. One section is Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics 30%, Content and Style 35%, and Organization 35%.
However, you will notice I have objectives within each of those 3 categories.
Look below at my sample of the free form Middle School Descriptive Writing Grade Record which I created for you. The grading record is for middle school, and it is to be used for a descriptive essay. Thank you to Kimberley, my follower, for allowing me to create it for her and for you.
Free Middle School Descriptive Writing Grade Record
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Rubric Versus Grading Scales
Another term which can make grading hard is understanding what is a rubric. A grading scale is a way to convert checkmarks to letter grades or to a number grade.
Although in the educational world now that has somewhat changed to a 1-to-4 point system. However, that still would have to convert to a letter grade for purposes of a report card. Don’t let me lose you.
A rubric is a term used more in the educational world and not as much in the homeschool world. A simpler term to understand is checklist.
Some homeschool evaluators with a teacher background prefer the term rubric. Whatever term you use checklist or rubric, it can be used different ways.
A rubric is a tool used by a student as a guide to view assignment expectations and objectives set by the teacher. It is a way to encourage students to self-check and can be used as a grading tool. Many rubrics exist on the internet and a lot of them are based on a 1-to-4 point system. Rubrics can be complex or simple.
Four is the highest and can mean achieve, accomplished, or even mastery. Three can be interpreted to mean proficient or practiced. Two can mean developing and one can signify incomplete.
Right away you see that a rubric or self-checking list may be more beneficial to a student of any age. We homeschool for mastery, not just a letter grade.
In addition, a checklist or rubric can encourage children to be challenged and show what they know instead of always measuring what they don’t know.
I think it’s important that if you use a rubric with young kids to assign positive terms to each number one through 4.
You’re encouraging growth at every age, but it’s especially important in the early grades that your children value practice and progress.
How to Calculate Homeschool Grades Using Rubrics
Here are a few more terms to describe each 1-to-4 point level; they can be mixed and matched based on the ages of your learners, subject type or project.
- Needs Improvement, Satisfactory, Good and Well Done
- Just Beginning, Getting There, Right On and Wow
- Poor Effort, OK, Great, and Exceptional
- Novice, Intermediate, Proficient and Distinguished
- Beginning, Developing, Experienced and Exceptional
- Beginning, Developing, Accomplished and Exemplary
- Novice, Approaching, Proficient and Advanced Understanding
- Not So Much, I Tried a Bit, I Did a Good Job and I Did My Best Ever is a cute one for art by Art Projects for Kids.
One thing I did when my children were teens was to show them my grading record, objectives, and goals. Can you see from that morphs a checklist or rubric?
Whether you use a checklist or orally convey your expectations to your children, I hope this information about figuring grades helps to simplify the process for you.
Look at these other helps.
- Free Homeschool Community Service Planning Record
- Helpful Read Aloud Tracking Time Homeschool Form
- How to Grade a Homeschool Unit Study for an Older Child (& high school assessment)
- Homeschool High School How To Prepare THE Transcript + Free Editable Transcript
- Homeschool High School–How to Log Hours for High School?