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How can Homeschoolers Earn an “A ”?

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.  Sometimes homeschoolers don't use tests. Even if you do evaluate with tests, a test grade is only a PORTION of the grade you put on the transcript.

I worried about grading strategies was homeschooling high school.  Math and science were easy to figure out, because I’m a math and science person.  But when it came to English, I was completely confused!  I found help with a small, inexpensive book called “501 Writing Prompts” by Learning Express. Along with 501 writing prompts, it also can help you with grading English. It has a simple rubric (a chart that provides grading criteria)  for grading an essay on a 1-6 scale.  Why grade an essay 1-6? It would seem to make more sense to grade them 1-10, so you would be able to figure percentages easily.  But the 1-6 scale is the same score range for the SAT essay, so perhaps that is why.


I’m not very good with “rubrics” and in fact, the whole WORD rubic has always intimidated to me.  When we quit public school, one of the teachers questioned my ability to homeschool and asked skeptically “what grading rubric will you use?”   I've been intimidated by 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.”

For more information on how we used that book, you may want to read the article "Quick Essay Skills Earn Thanks."

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 specific 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.

As a 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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Comments 5

Guest - Kathleen on Thursday, 26 February 2015 05:32

How very timely. I have been "in discussion" with my teen all week. (He believes grades should be a simple average, I believe the calculation can be more complex.) This will help us both!

How very timely. I have been "in discussion" with my teen all week. (He believes grades should be a simple average, I believe the calculation can be more complex.) This will help us both!
Guest - Assistant to The HomeScholar on Thursday, 26 February 2015 17:26

You're right, Kathleen!
In the end, you will probably use both the "average" and a more complex calculation. You will need those details when you calculate GPA. Lee tells you how to figure that out here: How to Calculate Homeschool GPA.
Robin
Assistant to The HomeScholar

You're right, Kathleen! In the end, you will probably use both the "average" and a more complex calculation. You will need those details when you calculate GPA. Lee tells you how to figure that out here: How to Calculate Homeschool GPA. Robin Assistant to The HomeScholar
Guest - Dido on Monday, 09 March 2015 02:15

My problem is that when I expect mastery of a topic (better than 80%), such as Math, and the homework and quizzes all show mastery, and then the unit exam turns up a 30%.

We're using Videotext Geometry. Then changed to Saxon. And then to ALEX. One daughter has been dragging herself through Geometry like a dying man through a desert. I'm befuddled, because we cannot seem to succeed or take off. Two years of this with one daughter (who still has not finished Geometry), then the second daughter ends up with the same inability to finish the first Unit. Again with Videotext.

We cannot move forward, worked on unit One for a whole semester. Still trying to master it. How can I ethically give them an A when they are not mastering the material? What exactly is it that we are doing if not teaching for mastery?

When I saw your blog topic, I was hoping for a bit more answers on the ethical side of grading. Because when my daughters think that "no-matter-what" Mom's giving them an A, they don't push through to finish that assignment. So on our home report cards, I gave them what they earned. But since they're in HS, I cannot afford to give them on their TRANSCRIPT anything besides an A, and require mastery. Consequently, they may have a 6 year high school experience. Both want to get into Science careers so I don't think compromising will do them any actual benefit. I considered Life of Fred, but that is not the caliber of math that they need for careers in Science.

Any encouragement and advice would be appreciated.

My problem is that when I expect mastery of a topic (better than 80%), such as Math, and the homework and quizzes all show mastery, and then the unit exam turns up a 30%. We're using Videotext Geometry. Then changed to Saxon. And then to ALEX. One daughter has been dragging herself through Geometry like a dying man through a desert. I'm befuddled, because we cannot seem to succeed or take off. Two years of this with one daughter (who still has not finished Geometry), then the second daughter ends up with the same inability to finish the first Unit. Again with Videotext. We cannot move forward, worked on unit One for a whole semester. Still trying to master it. How can I ethically give them an A when they are not mastering the material? What exactly is it that we are doing if not teaching for mastery? When I saw your blog topic, I was hoping for a bit more answers on the ethical side of grading. Because when my daughters think that "no-matter-what" Mom's giving them an A, they don't push through to finish that assignment. So on our home report cards, I gave them what they earned. But since they're in HS, I cannot afford to give them on their TRANSCRIPT anything besides an A, and require mastery. Consequently, they may have a 6 year high school experience. Both want to get into Science careers so I don't think compromising will do them any actual benefit. I considered Life of Fred, but that is not the caliber of math that they need for careers in Science. Any encouragement and advice would be appreciated.
Guest - Assistant to The HomeScholar on Tuesday, 10 March 2015 14:51

You're right, Dido.
In the interest of integrity, you can't put an "A" on a transcript if they haven't earned it by your standards. That being said, when I was in high school, my teacher allowed me to try pre-algebra, though I was in a "freshman math" class. I earned a "C" in pre-algebra, but the teacher gave me an "A" in the basic math class, because I had demonstrated skills that were beyond basic math, but I showed that I had not mastered algebraic concepts. In our homeschool, we worked at algebra for THREE YEARS before I finally gave up and changed curriculum. (It's expensive!) Both my girls are thriving with Math-U-See, whereas Saxon did not work for them. Lee often says that a transcript with a few "non-'A's" shows that parents give grades thoughtfully. It actually helps add credibility to the "A's" our children receive. You might like Lee's Free Webinar on Grades, Credits and Transcripts and her Kindle book Making the Grades: A Grouch-Free Guide to Homeschool Grading (A Coffee Break Book).
Robin
Assistant to The HomeScholar

You're right, Dido. In the interest of integrity, you can't put an "A" on a transcript if they haven't earned it by your standards. That being said, when I was in high school, my teacher allowed me to try pre-algebra, though I was in a "freshman math" class. I earned a "C" in pre-algebra, but the teacher gave me an "A" in the basic math class, because I had demonstrated skills that were beyond basic math, but I showed that I had not mastered algebraic concepts. In our homeschool, we worked at algebra for THREE YEARS before I finally gave up and changed curriculum. (It's expensive!) Both my girls are thriving with Math-U-See, whereas Saxon did not work for them. Lee often says that a transcript with a few "non-'A's" shows that parents give grades thoughtfully. It actually helps add credibility to the "A's" our children receive. You might like Lee's Free Webinar on Grades, Credits and Transcripts and her Kindle book Making the Grades: A Grouch-Free Guide to Homeschool Grading (A Coffee Break Book). Robin Assistant to The HomeScholar
Guest - Kathleen on Monday, 09 March 2015 11:41

Dido, I'm just another mom, with a son struggling with Algebra and Geometry after using Teaching Textbooks. We picked Saxon back up again after abandoning it several years ago...but anyway...I wonder why you "cannot afford to GIVE them on their transcript anything besides an A"? You aren't giving grades. You are assigning a value to what they earned. It sounds like your daughter hasn't earned an "A," based on effort and/or mastery. If they want careers in Science (as does my struggling son), they need to master this or consider other options. Since I don't know you other than this short message, it could be very easy to misunderstand, and if I do so, you have my sincerest apologies, but you may need to step back and ask yourself is this a curriculum problem, and if so, try to find a tutor or a better matching curriculum, or is this an attitude problem, in which case no curriculum will help.

Frankly, I don't see why the home report card and the transcript should have different grades on it. In traditional schools, the transcript should certainly reflect the periodic report cards.

Dido, I'm just another mom, with a son struggling with Algebra and Geometry after using Teaching Textbooks. We picked Saxon back up again after abandoning it several years ago...but anyway...I wonder why you "cannot afford to GIVE them on their transcript anything besides an A"? You aren't giving grades. You are assigning a value to what they earned. It sounds like your daughter hasn't earned an "A," based on effort and/or mastery. If they want careers in Science (as does my struggling son), they need to master this or consider other options. Since I don't know you other than this short message, it could be very easy to misunderstand, and if I do so, you have my sincerest apologies, but you may need to step back and ask yourself is this a curriculum problem, and if so, try to find a tutor or a better matching curriculum, or is this an attitude problem, in which case no curriculum will help. Frankly, I don't see why the home report card and the transcript should have different grades on it. In traditional schools, the transcript should certainly reflect the periodic report cards.
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