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Grading Homeschool Students: A How To Guide

written by: Donna Clarke • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 8/2/2012

One of the biggest concerns for homeschooling families is determining how to choose a grade. Do you base a grade on participation? Do you administer quizzes, exams, papers? Grading homeschool students can be determined using a variety of methods.

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    Grading Your Homeschooler

    One of the biggest challenges for many homeschooling families is determining grades and providing an accurate, impartial account of the work mastered. Do you measure that with tests, quizzes or research papers? What if classes are more relaxed, and you do not provide more traditional forms of material verification? What if you rely on dialog and debate as a measure of mastery? When it comes to grading homeschool students, is there a correct way?

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    Unschooling Evaluation Considerations

    Stick to the points of mastery when determining an unschooling grade. Key points of consideration when determining this evaluation might include:

    • Was the child/student able to fully discuss material learned in a cogent and salient manner.
    • Was the child/student able to express opinion on topics covered with confidence.
    • Was the child/student able to complete word and number problems without assistance (with respect to math courses)
    • (where applicable) Was the child/student able to correlate dates to major historical events.

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    Quizzes and Tests

    Quizzes and tests can take many forms: true/false, multiple choice, fill in the blank, short answer and essay. When designing a quiz or test, having a possible total point score of 100% is the easiest to calculate for grade. Each section or question should have a value based upon overall importance. True/false questions could be 1 percentage point each, short answer 10 percentage points each and essay as much as 25-30 percentage points each. The total of all sections should equal 100 percentage points. You may include an extra credit question or two. These questions should be above and beyond the actual test and the points only applied if answered correctly. Each test should reflect a percentage of the total course grade. For example, total quizzes add up to 25 percent of the final grade, while tests add up to 50 percent and papers the remaining 25 percent. Alternatively, you could have only quizzes, tests and class participation. In this case, quizzes and class participation each equal 25 percent, while tests were the remaining 50 percent. A third option is to have a midterm, final exam and class participation only, with the final exam weighing more heavily than the midterm exam and class participation, respectively. Whatever breakdown you choose, be sure your child understands the value of each component of his/her grade.

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    Calculating GPA


    GPA equals the grade points earned, divided by credit hours attempted. Usually, this is broken down into a 4.0 grade point scale: 4.0 = A, 3.0 = B, 2.0 = C, 1.0 = D and 0.0= F. Courses are generally worth 3 credit hours for a core curriculum or required course, 1 credit for a lab course and 1/2 credit for physical education, music and other elective courses.

    Example: Sally completes English 2, Spanish 1, Chemistry with a lab, and History. The credit hours applied are 3,3,3,1,and 3, respectively. She earns an A,C,B,B and B for the courses stated. To calculate, add total credit hours: 3+3+3+1+3= 13. Add the values of the grades: 12+6+9+3+9=39. Divide grade points by credit hours: 39 divided by 13 equals 3.0 or, a B average.

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    Track grades earned by keeping a transcript. This can be a list of courses, years completed and grades for K-8, with a more structured transcript for high school. Different states require different materials with respect to tracking scores, but having a high school transcript is necessary for the college application process.

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    When grading homeschool students, consistency and clarity is key. Make sure your child understands what is anticipated, and what the breakdown of grading will be for the specific class taught. Conversation is the key to clarity. Clarity is the key to success.

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    Workman, Katrina. Homeschooling: Untangling the Web of Confusion; 1999

    Hendrickson, Borg. How to Write a Low Cost/No Cost Curriculum; 1993