What About Grades?
published on 10/12/2020 by Karen Brown
If your child attended a traditional school, he probably got graded on just about everything. Now that you're the teacher, you may be struggling to figure out what to grade, how to grade, or whether to assign grades at all.

But I have to assign grades, right?

It depends on what state you live in. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the grading and record-keeping requirements of your state. Some states require you to submit a final grade in each subject at the end of the year, and some have no grading requirements at all. Even if you need to submit grades, you often have flexibility in how you make your assessments. For example, instead of grading individual assignments, you may be able to keep a portfolio of your child's work and grade it holistically at the end of the semester or school year.

Why would I want to limit (or eliminate) grading?

In a traditional school, teachers use grades to tell you how your child is performing in class, and the school administration uses grades to sort and rank students. In a homeschool setting, you are both teacher and administrator. You observe your child's work firsthand and can see where he is excelling or struggling, and you don't need to compare his performance to anyone else's.

Limiting or eliminating grades also allows learning to become the focus of your homeschool. Your child can explore, experiment, and make mistakes without fear of getting a bad grade.

When should I start assigning grades?

You should take your child's age and personality into account. For elementary-aged students, the focus should be on learning and exploring. At those ages, use missed problems as an indication for review or an opportunity for improvement. Focus on giving your child constructive feedback on assignments instead of grades.

If or when you decide to assign grades, you don't have to share them with your child. If your child is motivated by grades, you may choose to share his scores with him. Otherwise, you can reserve them for your own records.

What assignments should I grade?

If you want to assign grades, focus on tests, major writing assignments, and final projects. For homework assignments, check your child's work and give him an opportunity to make improvements. For example, he can correct missed math problems, provide more complete answers to science questions, or revise a paragraph for language arts.

Even if you grade major assignments, be sure to also give your child specific feedback on what he excelled on and which areas needed attention. Rubrics, either those provided in the curriculum or custom ones you create yourself, work well for this purpose. You may also want to assign a tentative grade for a project and then give your child the opportunity to revise his work before you assign a final grade.

Likewise, you can ask your child to correct missed test questions and give half credit for corrected answers. For example, if a test has 25 questions, each question would be worth 4 points each. A child who missed 3 questions but subsequently corrected 2 of them would have a final score of 92.

What about math quizzes?

The quizzes in the Moving Beyond the Page math curriculum are not designed to be graded. Instead, they are tools to help your child practice concepts covered in a lesson as well as ones from earlier in the year that he may need to review. You will receive an email whenever your child completes an online quiz, and while the email includes the percentage of questions your child answered correctly, this percentage is NOT a grade.

You will see two types of math quizzes:

  • At the end of every lesson, your child will take a short Learning Gates quiz that covers concepts covered in that lesson as well as customized review questions that cover problems your child has missed in the past. It is ok if he gets questions wrong. Learning Gates quizzes are adaptive, so missed questions are repeated in later quizzes (your child will receive either the exact question or a different question about the same topic). This means that if your child struggles with certain skills, he will receive additional practice on that skill.

  • Some math lessons contain standalone quizzes, either online or on activity pages. The online quizzes look similar to Learning Gates quizzes, but the questions in standalone quizzes are not repeated later. Use these quizzes as an indication of your child's understanding of the specific topic or skills covered in the quiz. In other words, if your child misses several questions, he may need to review a concept to better understand it.
Note that unit tests, found at the end of every math unit (Age 7-9 and above), are great tools for assessing your child's understanding in each unit and can be graded, if desired.

What about spelling quizzes?

Like math quizzes, our Learning Gates spelling system is an adaptive learning tool whose quizzes are not designed to be graded. Each weekly quiz presents between 5 and 10 new words along with several review words that your child has missed in the past. You will receive a progress email after each quiz, but the percentage shown is just for your information. You can use the list of incorrect words to provide additional review, but know that your child will see all missed words in future quizzes.
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