How Do You Grade?

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I grew up hearing terms like "80th percentile" and "satisfactory" when it came to my biennial tests. I knew that a letter-based grade system existed, and I quickly realized that--truly--the only grade I should ever get was an A. How could anyone settle for less than an A?

In our homeschool, we did things until we got it right. So, I guess, our "grading" was based on a pass/fail standard where failure was not an option. The concept of being forced to stop learning something so you could be given a mark on how well you did at that moment felt astonishingly myopic. How is that a useful statistic? Wouldn't it be better to master the topic at hand before moving on?


But I was growing up in the privilege of homeschooling where we had the time and freedom to pursue learning at a pace I required. Grades are, in my estimation, a nasty byproduct of mass education. They are the only motivator we can offer. They are the only metric we can measure. Grades are how we compare 30 students forced to move through content together.

The question, then, is: How do we apply this system to homeschooling? It certainly didn't fit with how my family did school.

I know some homeschool families give grades based on effort. That makes sense. So, I'm curious: How do you give grades?

On Wednesday, Judy is going to share about grading and Sonlight. I look forward to seeing what she has to say and how that compares to your insights!

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester

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  1. Peggy

    My oldest is finishing up "7th grade". At least, that is the grade kids her age are in. We also have a "4th grader", 1st grader and pre-schooler. We have never used grades as I have always felt that they were a system to tell the parent how the child is doing. Well, being their teacher I KNOW how well they are doing. Lately, however, I have realized the need for THEM to know how well they are meeting my expectations for them in a certain subject-a chance for them to improve if need be.

    I will be eagerly watching for Judy's post! (Esp. since the big High School is fast approaching!)

  2. The Reader

    oooh, I look forward to Judy's post. I've never used grades before, but now with an 8th grader, moving ever closer to that high school level wherein we'll have to make transcripts and such to send to colleges, I'm trying to grade things for practice.

    So far, math is easy. I grade the quizzes only, and give 1/2 credit for problems missed but then corrected. Ditto with science, which comes with tests, grammar/vocab workbooks, etc. Things with quantitative measures are easy.

    History? Reading? Writing? Figuring out grading for those, even when there are (subjective) assignments, is so much harder.

    Can't wait to see what Judy has to say!

  3. Luke

    Peggy, that is a great point! I know I've heard many homeschoolers say they like standardized tests because they give statistical proof that we are doing well <smile>.

    Reader, me either <smile>. But, yes: Some subjects lend themselves easily to grading. Good point.


  4. Pingback: High School and Grading and Transcripts … Oh My!! | Sonlight Blog