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Homeschool Grading: What is an "A"?

Do you have a book to recommend for how to figure out what requirements are for an "A" in a certain subject?  For example, English papers, science subjects, etc., if you are not using a textbook?

Hi Diane,
In my homeschool, I provided a simple percentage grade for tests that we gave.  If they got 10 wrong and there were 100 questions, they got 90%.  But that's only a grade for a test.  Since you came to my seminar, "Preparing to Homeschool High School" you know that a test grade is only a PORTION of the grade you put on the transcript.

I worried about that question when I was homeschooling high school.  Math and science were easy for me to figure out, because I'm a "math and science gal."  But when it came to English, I was completely flummoxed!  I stumbled upon the book I recommended at the seminar:  "501 Writing Prompts" by Learning Express.  It's a small, cheap book with (remarkably) 501 writing prompts.  It has a simple rubric for grading an essay on a 1-6 scale.  (Why 1-6?  I have no clue.  That's the same score range for the SAT essay, but why they chose 1-6 instead of something else, I don't know.)

I'm not very good with "rubrics" and in fact, the whole WORD rubic is intimidating to me.  When we quit public school, one of the teachers asked me "but what grading rubric will you use?"  Since I didn't even know what the word meant, I've been scared of the word ever since.  But the book "501 Writing Prompts" provides more than a rubric.  It also provides a visual example of each grade, so you can SEE what a grade of 4 should be, and what a grade of 6 should look like.  That helped me a LOT - I think I'm a visual learner.

Here is a link to that book:  "501 Writing Prompts."

Now that my kids are in college, I have seen a lot of examples of grading scales.  I have to say there aren't any "requirements" for a grade of "A."  Each teacher in each school district, and each professor in each college will have their own definition of an "A."  Some teachers will come right out and say "I know what to give you, so I don't need tests."  Others will have a detailed analysis of what makes an "A" grade.  They may have a point system, with a different amount of points for homework, tests, quizzes, projects, and discussion.  That's fine, but as homeschoolers, you have to ask yourself "what's the point?"  As homeschoolers, we provide a grade that we know to be fair, without worrying that we will be sued or assaulted for unfair grading practices.  Remember, there is not a single "requirement" for an A.  There is only what YOU require for an "A."  So really, however you decide to grade is fine.  And your requirements for an A are the "Real Requirements" for an A.

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I did discuss grading in depth in my book about transcripts.  I also maintain a webpage on grades and credits.
Homeschooling High School - Strengthen What Remain...
Homeschool Recreational Sport - A Low Cost Option
 

Comments 4

Guest - Lee (website) on Monday, 23 August 2010 07:42

I suppose I should recommend my own book, Setting the Records Straight: How to Craft Homeschool Transcripts and Course Descriptions for College Admission and Scholarships. It's on Amazon, and it's gotten FABULOUS reviews. If you like my writing and enjoy my blog posts, you'll love my book.

http://www.amazon.com/Setting-Records-Straight-Descriptions-Scholarships/dp/1449583555

Blessings,
Lee

I suppose I should recommend my own book, Setting the Records Straight: How to Craft Homeschool Transcripts and Course Descriptions for College Admission and Scholarships. It's on Amazon, and it's gotten FABULOUS reviews. If you like my writing and enjoy my blog posts, you'll love my book. http://www.amazon.com/Setting-Records-Straight-Descriptions-Scholarships/dp/1449583555 Blessings, Lee
Guest - Karen Dean on Sunday, 22 August 2010 12:30

The book, "Making the Grade" by homeschool mom Lesha Myers is absolutely excellent! She has lots of grading ideas for every subject including PE, discussion, art projects and she even shows how God "graded" the kings in the Old Testament! Can't recommend it highly enough!@!!

The book, "Making the Grade" by homeschool mom Lesha Myers is absolutely excellent! She has lots of grading ideas for every subject including PE, discussion, art projects and she even shows how God "graded" the kings in the Old Testament! Can't recommend it highly enough!@!!
Guest - TMW on Monday, 16 March 2009 18:25

Just FYI: 501 Writing Prompts is available for free in PDF form at the following link:
http://www.learnatest.com/LearningExpressEBooks/

Just FYI: 501 Writing Prompts is available for free in PDF form at the following link: http://www.learnatest.com/LearningExpressEBooks/
Guest - J W on Saturday, 14 March 2009 06:39

Oh, so that's what rubrics are for! I first ran into the word just recently for a writing contest my daughter entered. I have the rubric in my files, thinking it was merely a good guideline for teaching. So it's a basis for grading! Hmmm... I guess that would come in handy if you were dealing with 30 individuals and needed 1 standard so that their parents wouldn't scream "UNFAIR!" But I judge my 2 students against what they are capable of.

My personal grading system is wildly variable according to what's being done and who's doing it. Almost everything is "pass/fail," unless it's a highly objective subject (like math or health) with a lot of "read it and spit out the answer" questions. So the "pass/fail" is either 1 point (participation with good effort and attitude) or 0 points (uncooperative and sulky). "Projects" (art, experiments, creative writing, essays, knitting, etc.) are graded according to what I think they're worth and according to what I know my student is capable of. For instance, a paragraph for a creative writing exercise might be worth only 10 points for my older daughter, who is gifted in this area. I'd probably give my younger daughter, who struggles with creative writing, 50 points because that would be a major project for her! Regardless of the final grade, each hour spent researching, writing or editing is either 1 or 0. The final grade for a full-blown five paragraph research paper could be 98 out of 100 points for my gifted 6th grader. I would probably give her a score out of 50 points if she actually were an older teen instead of a sixth grader working at that level. Tests are rare. Mostly I test on memeory work - Bible verses, spelling, the bones in a horse's body - things that you either get right or wrong. I have a database program my husband is developing to automatically tally up the grades, 1's and 0's (among other things). Hopefully that program will be thoroughly tested and ready for release in a couple of years. One could use Microsoft Excel for this too. I think discussion, daily work, discussion, research, discussion, field trips, disussion, special projects, and discussion are far more valuable than just chewing information and spitting it back out for a test.

Oh, so that's what rubrics are for! I first ran into the word just recently for a writing contest my daughter entered. I have the rubric in my files, thinking it was merely a good guideline for teaching. So it's a basis for grading! Hmmm... I guess that would come in handy if you were dealing with 30 individuals and needed 1 standard so that their parents wouldn't scream "UNFAIR!" But I judge my 2 students against what they are capable of. My personal grading system is wildly variable according to what's being done and who's doing it. Almost everything is "pass/fail," unless it's a highly objective subject (like math or health) with a lot of "read it and spit out the answer" questions. So the "pass/fail" is either 1 point (participation with good effort and attitude) or 0 points (uncooperative and sulky). "Projects" (art, experiments, creative writing, essays, knitting, etc.) are graded according to what I think they're worth and according to what I know my student is capable of. For instance, a paragraph for a creative writing exercise might be worth only 10 points for my older daughter, who is gifted in this area. I'd probably give my younger daughter, who struggles with creative writing, 50 points because that would be a major project for her! Regardless of the final grade, each hour spent researching, writing or editing is either 1 or 0. The final grade for a full-blown five paragraph research paper could be 98 out of 100 points for my gifted 6th grader. I would probably give her a score out of 50 points if she actually were an older teen instead of a sixth grader working at that level. Tests are rare. Mostly I test on memeory work - Bible verses, spelling, the bones in a horse's body - things that you either get right or wrong. I have a database program my husband is developing to automatically tally up the grades, 1's and 0's (among other things). Hopefully that program will be thoroughly tested and ready for release in a couple of years. One could use Microsoft Excel for this too. I think discussion, daily work, discussion, research, discussion, field trips, disussion, special projects, and discussion are far more valuable than just chewing information and spitting it back out for a test.
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