Menu
Jump to content

What's with the ads?

shburks

How to Determine Grade Percentages

Recommended Posts

I'm sure this has been discussed before, but my search words aren't giving me what I'm looking for!

9th grader, so I'm in the early stages of grading and preparing high school level grades. He does math and science online, so those percentages are set by the teacher-- x% for homework, y% for tests, z% for labs, etc.

What I can't wrap my brain around is something like foreign languages? What's an appropriate percentage for quizzes versus tests? What if it only has tests and daily work? We don't grade daily work like a public school teacher might, so I can't just grade him on tests! That's not fair!

What about history? Our text only does some projects and unit quizzes.

Can anyone share your percentages for grading purposes?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Everyone does this differently and ... It really doesn't matter, ya know? If you want examples in the PS world, search for syllabi "American history syllabus" or "French 1 syllabus." 

I used to come up with percentages  (especially for my oldest because she did not put forth a lot of effort for home brewed classes) but I'm more holistic now (*shhh!*) and just give a grade for the semester or year for something like history based on the work they've done.

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One way to approach this is to look at what the teachers in your area do (many times you can find this sort of thing online) and then do your best to mimic that.

Over the years, generally what I've seen in both the public and private schools around here is this breakdown:

  • 70-75% graded work (quizzes, tests, exams, essays, projects).
  • 25-30% completion/participation points, where the student gets 100% just by meeting the minimal requirements of the class (homework, discussion, attendance, keeping a notebook, etc).  However, I've seen as low as 10% and as high as 50% for this piece.

How each teacher allocates within each sphere can vary quite a bit.

However, in a homeschool setting, I think that this sort of attention to the minutiae of grading is misplaced.  In recent years I've decided that a more natural approach is to require my son to work to mastery.  What this means is that he always gets an A, but depending on the subject and the tasks involved, it may take more or less work to get there.  In other words, I expect A-level achievement, and he's not done until that expectation is met.  I actually see that this is what I was doing years ago with the older one as well, I was just driving myself nuts by applying the weighting overlay to it all.  

I make (and made, for the older one) a statement in our school profile (for college applications) about teaching to mastery and that's why the home-based grades are so high.  

I have come to believe that grading is pretty arbitrary.  For example, I teach algebra to other people's children (one on one).  I've found that with certain error patterns on tests--the silly arithmetic kind, not the conceptual kind--I could make an argument for giving a grade for the test ranging from an A to an F.  It just depends on how much I decide to take off for things like thinking that 3 x 2 is 5 or a misplaced minus sign.  What the test is testing will dictate how egregious these sort of errors actually are.

Which brings me to a point that is a bit uncomfortable in homeschooling circles.

In order to grade properly, in order to evaluate for mastery, you need to have mastered the material yourself.  You need to understand the implications of various types of errors.  For example, when grading foreign language work, should a vocabulary error count as much as a grammar error?  More generally, how much should an error count when the vast majority of a sentence (or whatever) is correct?   After having a discussion with my son's French teacher about this (because I was truly curious after having wrestled with it for Latin for a few years), I came to the conclusion that in general, her opinion was that grammar mistakes were worse than vocabulary mistakes, but how much was taken off was entirely context dependent.  Sort of like with math.  And you have to have mastered the material yourself to be able to identify that context.

ETA: It is important that if you are going to teach to mastery and give all As that the student's SAT scores and outside class grades are at a similar level. 

Edited by EKS
  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm pass/fail. I would never let them finish a class earning the equivalent of a C. They'd redo it before we moved on. I have 3 high school students now and I'm not going to try to approximate a brick and mortar report card and transcript. I'll let you know in a few years how it works out, but I think colleges probably put little weight in homeschool GPAs. 

Edited by Paige

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Like, RootAnn, we're just holistic about it.  You work until you've got it or until I feel the experience of learning about it is quality enough that I happy with the outcome. Thus, it's an A. I give individual feedback and sometimes numerical grades on individual tests and papers. But then it's just to say, look, here, this is what is specifically wrong. Work until it's done and to a higher quality.

However, if you feel you need to go through and justify this, nearly every foreign language class I've ever taken has had some level of participation grade, even in college. Participation with foreign language, even more than with any other subject, is how you learn. Yes, your student is there and is the only one so they're participating and it's an automatic A assuming you just do the work. But otherwise you're weighting them unfairly on tests IMHO. So this is the remedy.

For history, it can also be an oral discussion grade. Or a project grade. If process - as in, consuming information and discussing it or taking notes on it or whatever - are your primary means of teaching, I think it's beyond reasonable to assign a grade to that process. And if your student is fully participating in it, then that grade would be an A.

Edited by Farrar
  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From what I understand, you determine this as you will. I have seen various syllabi where homework (daily work, in this case) counts up to 80%. I think it is important to give a balance and not just teach to a test yet also not skew our grades so that homeschoolers across the board can not be trusted. If they know the material and are putting forth effort, you'll know that.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 minutes ago, Paige said:

I'm pass/fail. I would never let them finish a class earning the equivalent of a C. They'd redo it before we moved on. I have 3 high school students now and I'm not going to try to approximate a brick and mortar report card and transcript. I'll let you know in a few years how it works out, but I think colleges probably put little weight in homeschool GPAs. 

Because of the way college admissions works, they are sorting students based partly on GPA, even for homeschoolers. And it matters a lot for scholarships. If you know your kids are not college bound or bound for community college, then there's no reason to give grades at this level any more than any other. But I don't understand not giving college bound students grades. It will just disadvantage them.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Farrar said:

Because of the way college admissions works, they are sorting students based partly on GPA, even for homeschoolers. And it matters a lot for scholarships. If you know your kids are not college bound or bound for community college, then there's no reason to give grades at this level any more than any other. But I don't understand not giving college bound students grades. It will just disadvantage them.

If pushed, I'd give them an A if we completed the course because the only way they're going to complete it is if they do A level work. But I'm not going to try to give %. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, Paige said:

If pushed, I'd give them an A if we completed the course because the only way they're going to complete it is if they do A level work. But I'm not going to try to give %. 

Most transcripts don't have a percentage. The letter grade is sufficient. I guess the issue is more that no one will push you. If your kids don't have a transcript with grades, they'll just have a number of options closed to them, and for no reason other than the fact that they don't have it.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, everyone. Interesting and different approaches here. I do realize that percentages don't go on a transcript; I'm a former classroom teacher, but I just wanted some guidance on how to set up a homeschool grade versus a classroom grade where I did give value to homework completed, classroom participation, etc. 

I don't think giving an A is always appropriate. While, yes, he may be able to more thoroughly understand the subject matter, it doesn't mean that he is a good writer or will get every single math problem right or even be fluent in French even if I give him repeated opportunities to correct. That feels like inflating grades to me, and it also doesn't seem realistic. A college professor isn't teaching to mastery nor does he/she care if students pass/fail half the time. I do appreciate the thoughts though

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 minutes ago, shburks said:

I don't think giving an A is always appropriate. While, yes, he may be able to more thoroughly understand the subject matter, it doesn't mean that he is a good writer or will get every single math problem right or even be fluent in French even if I give him repeated opportunities to correct. That feels like inflating grades to me, and it also doesn't seem realistic. A college professor isn't teaching to mastery nor does he/she care if students pass/fail half the time. I do appreciate the thoughts though

You're absolutely right--in a classroom setting an A means something different from what it might mean in a one on one setting.  When you teach to mastery, part of mastery is that by the end of the mastering, the student *can* do problems without needing repeated opportunities to correct, or in the case of a foreign language, the student *is* fluent (or whatever the goal of mastery is).  It just extends the learning period as needed.  In other words, if you're teaching to mastery, eventually the student must demonstrate that they can do whatever it is the *first* time.

You're right that a college professor doesn't teach to mastery; however, I'd argue that a homeschooled student who has been taught to mastery is at a distinct advantage over others who have not.  

After homeschooling for 16 years, including two runs through the high school years, I've come to the conclusion that it isn't worth the angst to pretend that all of the deadlines and other executive function challenges that traditional schools throw at students should exist in a homeschool setting.  This is why I make sure my kids have ample opportunities to refine those skills in outside classes.

Edited by EKS
  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I tend to agree with EKS, but to a point. I think it’s somewhat family-dependent, maybe student-dependent.

The mastery grades approach works best, I think, when you have a student who generally is bright and a diligent worker, tests well, and most of the time is hitting the mastery level at the outset. But not every child is like that in all subjects, and at some point, you can’t keep handing back the same paper for improvement and only finish two papers a year and say that’s an A. At some point, you run out of time and have to move on, and can’t re-do too many science topics until they can get an A on that test. And I know there are people who say, it doesn’t matter if you finish every book. But it actually does matter IMO that you do finish the part of the book that represents a typical coverage of that class at a high school level if you’re going to call it that on your transcript. 

And if a kid doesn’t finish a class until the summer mostly because they slacked off and learned that mom will keep extending deadlines, do they really deserve an A? I think there is a balance, where teaching to mastery is the goal, but I can’t embrace a standard that my child gets an A no matter what.

 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, Penelope said:

I tend to agree with EKS, but to a point. I think it’s somewhat family-dependent, maybe student-dependent.

The mastery grades approach works best, I think, when you have a student who generally is bright and a diligent worker, tests well, and most of the time is hitting the mastery level at the outset. But not every child is like that in all subjects, and at some point, you can’t keep handing back the same paper for improvement and only finish two papers a year and say that’s an A. At some point, you run out of time and have to move on, and can’t re-do too many science topics until they can get an A on that test. And I know there are people who say, it doesn’t matter if you finish every book. But it actually does matter IMO that you do finish the part of the book that represents a typical coverage of that class at a high school level if you’re going to call it that on your transcript. 

And if a kid doesn’t finish a class until the summer mostly because they slacked off and learned that mom will keep extending deadlines, do they really deserve an A? I think there is a balance, where teaching to mastery is the goal, but I can’t embrace a standard that my child gets an A no matter what.

I agree with this and I am absolutely *not* arguing that the student gets an A no matter what.  They get an A if they meet my A level expectations.    

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, Penelope said:

I tend to agree with EKS, but to a point. I think it’s somewhat family-dependent, maybe student-dependent.

The mastery grades approach works best, I think, when you have a student who generally is bright and a diligent worker, tests well, and most of the time is hitting the mastery level at the outset. But not every child is like that in all subjects, and at some point, you can’t keep handing back the same paper for improvement and only finish two papers a year and say that’s an A. At some point, you run out of time and have to move on, and can’t re-do too many science topics until they can get an A on that test. And I know there are people who say, it doesn’t matter if you finish every book. But it actually does matter IMO that you do finish the part of the book that represents a typical coverage of that class at a high school level if you’re going to call it that on your transcript. 

And if a kid doesn’t finish a class until the summer mostly because they slacked off and learned that mom will keep extending deadlines, do they really deserve an A? I think there is a balance, where teaching to mastery is the goal, but I can’t embrace a standard that my child gets an A no matter what.

 

That was my argument as well. My son is quite bright and generally tests well, but he doesn't do well with re-doing papers or even correcting his work. He simply doesn't care and won't put forth any effort even if given the opportunity. I do give him the opportunity to revisit Latin and French tests but even taking a second look at them, sometimes he just doesn't know them and no amount of encouraging, nagging, etc can make him memorize all the vocabulary! ha ha ha!

6 minutes ago, EKS said:

I agree with this and I am absolutely *not* arguing that the student gets an A no matter what.  They get an A if they meet my A level expectations.    

I think that's fair. Perhaps not my approach, but I can absolutely understand what you're saying. 🙂

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, I was that homeschool mom who did not give their kid all As. In fact, until the very end, the only non-As on DD's transcript were given by me. Her outside classes, online, in person, at a college, everywhere else, were all As. But she also gave those classes way more attention& diligence than the ones at home. Her geometry grade, for example, reflected her retention of the concepts. She has to deal with that now as a math major. :) And, FWIW, her test scores indicated her GPA should have been higher. But it reflected the work she did both for me & for her outside classes. (I was very happy to have outsourced everything for her senior year.)

My second kid doesn't excel at math or foreign language (the two interests of DD#1). She struggles in both but she mostly tries hard. So, our pace is slower because we have to circle back around multiple times. We have to review more. She's not going to end up with an A average in either, but she'll be as solid as I can make her-probably about a B level understanding. And, very likely, her standardized test scores will echo that level of (math) understanding. Holistically, she's working hard, but she'll never approach that A level work (90% & up consistently) across the board, and we go through the material slower than a standard high school course.

Now, for history, I have no issue giving her an A because her written output is good quality (what little I require for that subject). More importantly, she can discuss the importance and impact of different happenings in history. No one can know all of history. I will say that attitude is part of my holistic grading so I agree with @Penelope that it is kid-dependent.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To be clear, I'd be willing to give my kids not A's. And I don't think mastery for a high school student usually means mastering the subject. I mean, when my kids finished their study of African and Asian history last year, I would not say they "mastered" Asian and African history. They were 14. They have plenty to learn. I majored in history with a concentration in East Asian history and *I* have plenty to learn. I would say they engaged with the material to my satisfaction and did all major assignments over until I considered them to be an "A" grade. The thing is, the way we run our homeschool, it would be hard for them not to do that unless they were just going to be outright defiant about schoolwork and refuse to try.

Obviously it's different with school and outside classes. I've been a classroom teacher too and I'm teaching an outside history/lit class now. They might not have gotten an A for a similar class outside the home. But they also wouldn't have gotten the advantages that having it at home inherently affords. It just would have been different, like EKS said. I find that the A is still meaningful.

Sometimes for the sake of my kids, they need to hear where they're specifically succeeding and struggling and occasionally grades are a concise way to do that. For history, we do these short answer questions. It's been fascinating to watch them do them over the last year and a half. When they started out, answers were really basic. They had trouble answering all parts of the question and giving full answers with specifics. BalletBoy in particular was the king of the vague answer. Most of those answers wouldn't have been a "A" in some hypothetical classroom where I'm looking for exemplar level answers. More like a "C." But then we would redo some, discuss some, and I'd look for progress on the next set and the next and so forth. Today, BalletBoy showed me his answers and they were mostly excellent, but one was too long, had parts that were vague, and was meandering in its organization. These are all problems that are sort of the opposite of last year when he didn't have enough information to be meandering about in the first place. So that's progress. Still not an exemplar, but really good. In order to get him to "hear" where the answer is, I sometimes will measure it against my idea of where he should be and give it a grade. That bar is changing, and I feel totally fine about that. And the grade I give these answers on a ten point scale doesn't feel to me like I need to average it. If it's too low, he knows he has to redo it.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How @Farrar explains picking something to improve & a moving bar is something we've talked about on here about writing assignments. You pick something (maybe 1 major thing or a couple key grammar concepts) to talk about & have them redo for this paper & they need to show they get it with the next paper. On that next paper, you pick something else for them to fix/redo & learn. Etc. Their papers at the end of the year will be a big improvement (or maybe just a small improvement depending on the kid). But they have to be willing to try.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Penelope said:

I tend to agree with EKS, but to a point. I think it’s somewhat family-dependent, maybe student-dependent.

The mastery grades approach works best, I think, when you have a student who generally is bright and a diligent worker, tests well, and most of the time is hitting the mastery level at the outset. But not every child is like that in all subjects, and at some point, you can’t keep handing back the same paper for improvement and only finish two papers a year and say that’s an A. At some point, you run out of time and have to move on, and can’t re-do too many science topics until they can get an A on that test. And I know there are people who say, it doesn’t matter if you finish every book. But it actually does matter IMO that you do finish the part of the book that represents a typical coverage of that class at a high school level if you’re going to call it that on your transcript. 

And if a kid doesn’t finish a class until the summer mostly because they slacked off and learned that mom will keep extending deadlines, do they really deserve an A? I think there is a balance, where teaching to mastery is the goal, but I can’t embrace a standard that my child gets an A no matter what.

 

I agree with this. What works for one won't always work for other families and even the next kid in the same family. For us, it plays out on a transcript in that if a student needed extra time to complete a subject to what I felt was a solid A-level knowledge and output, then they may lose another class on the transcript because there wasn't time. I also have kids who don't want to move on until they really understand. Someone else may choose to let someone pass with a B or C and then have time for more electives while we may end up sitting on fewer credits at the end of the year. 

But I know my family is unusual. I have kids who are usually unusually diligent and cooperative and who also have various special needs which means we can't run school the way someone else can, and that what works for us could be stifling to another kid. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I will say that if I had a teen that is not doing their best and is consistently giving what I consider to be “C” level (or worse) of effort and mastery in several areas, I would probably no longer be homeschooling them for high school starting the next year or next semester. Let the outsiders give them the grades that will wreck their GPA if that’s what they earned, but I don’t really want to be the one to do it. And there is also the possibility that they will work harder for someone else. 
 

Edited: I don’t know if anyone has seen Lee Binz’s holistic grading scale, here: http://washhomeschool.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/WHO-1-High-School-Grades-and-Credits-handout.pdf

Quote

 Transcript grade is the sum of all your evaluations. How to estimate grades:
Grade A: parent is not annoyed, child shows mastery not perfection, meets high expectations, high test scores, or the child loves the subject
Grade B: parent is somewhat annoyed, child does pretty well, not worth an A, might have been a curriculum problem, but they should have done better
Grade 😄 parent is very annoyed and even disappointed; child did not do very well at all, but kept going to the next level
 Not recommended: pass or fail grades, giving a D or F (repeat or remove the class instead)

It made me laugh that to think the first consideration could be how annoyed I am! I think even people who are completely holistic with grading might quibble with this grading method. Though maybe it gets pretty close to the grade a student would get with strict adherence to a grading plan and number grades, in a lot of cases.

Edited by Penelope
  • Like 1
  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh my goodness, that Lee Binz thing is hilarious!  

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I find this conversation fascinating. I was a school teacher in a previous life, and I am just so very different as a homeschool educator.  I don't actually believe in giving grades for my home grown classes, and have never given my children tests, or graded papers, or kept any sort of grade book.  It wasn't until the summer before my older boy's 12th grade year that I had to even think about how to create a transcript. Until that time, we did not have official courses nor did we have official grades. 

Like others have said, it sooooo depends on the family dynamic and the child in question.  Our homeschool is not about me assigning work. I have never assigned work, I have never given my kids due dates or schedules to keep, which is part of the reason why grades would never work.  We have a rhythm to our day, where we work from 9 to 3ish, and my kids have been expected to do some math, writing, and science every day. How much they do was up to them, what they studied was up to them.  We would decide on the topics for the term, and I would find and buy the materials, and they would read them or do them, and if they didn't like them, I would go find something else.  The goal was the love of learning, as I believe that kids who love learning, learn more effectively and efficiently.  So once again, how do grades work here?  I also did most things *with* my kids, so right now my younger boy and I are each writing papers on development economics comparing Botswana to the DRC.  He is focusing on the impact of leadership, and I am focusing on the impact of slavery.  We then read our papers to each other and find areas of success and areas that need improvement.  If I were to *grade* his paper, it would ruin the dynamic of us being in it together, learning together, making progress together.  I know *nothing* about development economics, so I am actually also learning the content and basing our work on question driven research papers. But once again, no grades.

When my older boy was in 12th grade, and we knew at that point that he needed a transcript and certain classes, I bought a study book for AP government.  He was to read it that term and take the unit tests (multiple choice) after each chapter.  I asked him after every test, 'how did you do?' and he would say I got them all right.  So, ok,  95% to 100% on 7 tests -- that is an A.  But that was the most worthless A I ever gave him.  I got to put down that he took tests, and the grade was objective, but boy was it worthless compared to his independent reading and working that he had been doing for years with no grades.  He read for 4 hours every single night from 9pm-1am for 4 full years, 9th-12th grade.  This reading was not for an assignment, he was just reading the Economist, Scientific American, and all sorts of literature because he wanted to.  How do you grade that kind of reading, especially because there was no expectation, no requirement, no assignments.  These hours, however, had to turn into classes for him to get enough credits on his transcript, and clearly he had read more widely and more deeply than basically any teen I had ever met.  But grades?  No. Not until I was forced to.

When I wrote the transcript, I based all grades 9th - 12th grade on standardized tests he took in 11th and 12th grade, linking grades by skills mastered rather than by content. But during my boys' 12-year education with me, grades have played no part.

Ruth in NZ

Edited by lewelma
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Farrar said:

Because of the way college admissions works, they are sorting students based partly on GPA, even for homeschoolers. And it matters a lot for scholarships. If you know your kids are not college bound or bound for community college, then there's no reason to give grades at this level any more than any other. But I don't understand not giving college bound students grades. It will just disadvantage them.

I didn’t give grades and my son was a NMS and admitted everywhere he applied, including several top ranked LACs, with top scholarships at those that give merit aid. He did have about eight official grades from DE at the local LAC (and they weren’t all As) and outside classes (the majority of his outside classes were done at a homeschool center and also did not give grades), at the time he applied (early January of senior year), and earned two more second semester his senior year. I explained in our homeschool profile that we worked to mastery, and he got letters of recommendation from his two main homeschool center teachers and two college professors.

Edited by Frances
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Coming back to this thread to say that I spoke with someone a couple of weeks ago who is the homeschool college admissions person at a university. I asked, what's the biggest thing you want people to know. Her number one? She needs a GPA in order to justify admissions and give merit aid. She said if they don't give one, sometimes she has to piece one together herself if the student is worth it. I know people have had good experiences without giving a GPA or grades but to me it's all a game with the college folks. If they want to see it and I feel justified in giving it, I'm going to calculate a GPA and give final letter grades since it's to my kids' benefit. I don't want a random admissions officer being the one to decide what the GPA might look like if I can do that instead and I especially don't want to risk an admissions officer saying, I don't want to bother.

Edited by Farrar
  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A few yrs ago a student who by all other measures should have been admitted to UVA was denied. The reason given when the parents inquired? No grades. All passes were automatically converted by the U to Cs. I would contact admissions officers before I had my kids apply that way.

We are in the work to mastery camp. My kids have all been honors college students graduating with high GPAs. My last college grad had a 4.0. Working to mastery has not led to being unable to meet classroom expectations. (My current college Jr also has a 4.0 and had never stepped inside a classroom prior to freshman yr.) It isnt an approach for every family, but it does work.

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...