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[Book Excerpt] Making the Grades

~ A word from our founder, The HomeScholar Emeritus, Lee Binz ~

This is a chapter from my book, Making the Grades: A Grouch-Free Guide to Homeschool Grading. You can purchase a copy in print or Kindle version on Amazon.

Chapter 1

Grading with Tests

Just as there are many ways to homeschool, there are different ways to evaluate your student's work. Most people use a combination of tests, homework, and writing, depending on the course being evaluated. I graded using tests for math, science, and foreign language because the curriculum I used included tests, but I didn't use tests for other classes. I was looking for mastery of each subject, not a certain percentage score, and this influenced how I assigned grades. Some families incorporate standardized tests to either replace or supplement the tests in their curriculum. If, for instance, your child takes the Iowa Test of Basic Skills or the CAT (or even the PSAT® or SAT®), you could use the words in those tests as part of your evaluation. 

There's no right way to evaluate your child! It's perfectly fine if you want to use the tests in your curriculum. You can administer them orally, as quizzes, or in a written format. 

Valuable Skills

Test-taking skills are important to learn as your children get older. It's a good idea to expose kids to fill-in-the-bubble tests so they get comfortable with them. Fill-in-the-bubble tests are merely a part of life — like voting or taking a driver's test! Writing a short, handwritten essay is also an important test-taking skill that will help your child in the future. When your child applies for a job, employers might say, "Sit down and tell us a bit about yourself in writing." Learning to write a quick essay is important not only for a grade, but as a life skill as well. 

The Purpose of Tests

If you are already aware of what your student knows in a subject, then tests become less valuable to you as a professional educator. If you consider why public schools use grades, remember they're evaluating 30 students at once. If they evaluated all of them orally, it would be utter chaos, so it makes a lot of sense for schools to grade using tests. They need to do so in order to efficiently evaluate what each student knows (not to mention maintain federal funding). As a homeschooler, you don't have those problems, and are not tied to using tests to determine what your child knows.

Even in your use of grades to evaluate your child, you have a lot of leeway. Grading in schools varies more widely than you can imagine! Even within the same school, grading is different from teacher to teacher. If you get a sample syllabus from several schools, you'll see some interesting approaches. Every school does it in a completely different way, and every teacher within each school can approach it differently, too. You can evaluate your student in your own unique ways. 

Making the Grades is one of my Coffee Break Books. What are Coffee Break Books? These are books designed for YOU - a busy homeschool parent feeling frustrated by something, and needing information NOW - all put together in an easy-to-read, short, simple format. Coffee Break Books are perfect for overwhelmed, sleep-deprived moms with a baby on their hip. Simple, large font makes them easy to read even when distracted or pulled in a million directions. They are designed to help parents tackle just ONE issue of homeschooling during just ONE coffee break! Each book combines a practical and friendly approach with detailed, easy-to-digest information. Never overwhelming, always accessible and manageable, each book in the series will give you the tools you need to tackle the tasks of homeschooling high school, one warm sip at a time. 

Learn more about Making the Grades in my video review below! 

This is a chapter from my book, Making the Grades: A Grouch-Free Guide to Homeschool Grading. You can purchase a copy in print or Kindle version on Amazon.

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Monday, 27 May 2024

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