To Grade or Not to Grade?

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First of all, your state regulations supersede any advice given here.  If your state or cover school requires grades from k-12, then that is what you have to do.  However, for those who have less restriction you can take this under advisement.

In states like Mississippi where there are no reporting requirements for homeschoolers, many families choose not to grade, but instead seek mastery in their children’s work.  Mastery learning is all about knowing a student’s individual accomplishments.  You will know if your child can carry or borrow in addition or subtraction  because you see their work everyday and a test or grade for that is unnecessary.  The objective is mastered.  In a classroom setting with 20 or more students, teachers must use tests and grades to determine if the children are understanding.  Working one on one with a child diminishes that need for assessment.

You may wish to keep a mastery record instead of a grade record.  A mastery record simply looks like a list of objectives that you want your child to learn.  When they understand it, you can check it off the list, date it if you choose, or keep a detailed comment. This works really well for preschool and early elementary. Below is a sample mastery record.  I indicates introduced, P indicates progressing, and M equals mastered. You can find a list of objectives in the scope and sequence for a curriculum.

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For those who still need to report grades there are various grading methods.  Unless your state dictates, you can set your own weighted scale.

Weight                                   Example
Daily grades = 40%              Daily = 100 average
Quiz grades = 25%               Quiz = 90 average
Test grades = 35%                Tests = 78 average
Total Weight = 100%

In the example above, our student does not test well and gets anxious when timed.  But their daily work shows they understand the material and are achieving mastery. If all of these scores were averaged evenly, this student would have an 89 with a 3.0 GPA. With the weighted scores, the student ends up with a 94 average and a 4.0 GPA.  This is a better reflection of what the child has actually accomplished.  This is one reason you may want to consider weighted grades.

To weight grades, calculate the average for each grade category and multiply it by the percent. Then add all the products together to get the overall grade for that subject.  It is important that the weighted percents add up to 100. See the math below.

100 x .40 = 40
91 x .25 = 23 (rounded 22.8)
87 x .35 = 31 (rounded 30.5)                    40 + 23 + 31 = 94

However you do this be consistent throughout the school year or the grades won’t mean anything.  I do believe that grading your child’s tests gives them a motivation to study  and master the material.  Whether you have to report the grades or not (they never need to know) it also provides an opportunity to praise them when they do well and see where they are not understanding when they don’t. For our students who don’t test well, it gives them an opportunity to practice and become comfortable and less anxious about it.