Grading Guidelines: What You Need to Know

As a homeschooling parent, you’ve probably wondered at times how to best evaluate your student’s work. Do you take a hands-off approach to assigning grades, and focus instead on working closely alongside your student and assessing competency in other ways? Do you correct each assignment with number or letter grading to motivate your child and keep accurate records?

Homeschooling parents are all over the place on the grading spectrum. Whether or not you decide to grade your student’s work will depend on a number of factors — Does your state require grades? Do grades motivate your students or make them anxious? Are you working on a high school transcript where grades and grade point averages are important? Here are some simple grading guidelines for homeschooling parents.

Grading Guidelines: What You Need to Know

Why Grading is No Big Deal for Homeschoolers

The traditional grading system that most schools use may not be relevant in your homeschool. That’s not to say you won’t be assessing your student’s work and helping them improve. Grading may be a tidy way of finalizing an assignment, but it will also let your student off the hook in many situations. If a “C” is passing, teachers can simply add it to their record books and move on.

If you’re teaching for mastery and understanding, you may instead want to give more detailed assessments, discussing areas your student doesn’t understand and helping them improve. Students whose work is based on grades are often guilty of cramming for tests, receiving their grade, and then forgetting everything they learned. When a grade is not the final outcome, students tend to embrace learning as a means to an end. Here’s how one mom found a happy medium with homeschool grading.

When Grading is Important for Homeschoolers

There are times when grading is important. Some states actually require grades as a method of assessment. Grades also work well on high school transcripts required by many colleges for admission. For some students, grading provides important feedback and motivation. Transitioning to graded work is often considered a necessary step for college-bound students, who will be graded on tests, papers, and other assignments.

Grading Guidelines: What You Need to Know

Now that we’ve discussed the whys of grading, it’s time to talk about how. Here are some grading guidelines to use in your homeschool:

Decide your grading categories before each school year – Will you grade your students on effort, participation, daily assignments, or just on test scores? Will you take points off for work that is late or messy?

Grade electives based on effort – Many parents wonder how to grade subjects like music, physical education, or other life skills. You can put a letter grade on completed projects, but you should also consider grading your student’s enthusiasm, effort, and improvement. Nobody knows your child better than you.

Choose a grading scale – Yes, there is more than one grading scale to choose from. Check out the most common grading scales on the HSDLA website.

As you can see there’s no right or wrong answer to the question of grading in the homeschool. Every homeschooling family will approach it differently, and your choice to assess your students in a way that will meet your family’s needs is one of the benefits of homeschooling.

Becky Muldrow & the Dual Credit at Home Team
Becky Muldrow & the Dual Credit at Home Team

I'm Becky Muldrow, wife to my high school sweetheart, Gene, and mom to 10 great kids! I love spending my days homeschooling the last 4 of them and sharing (on my website and at homeschool conferences) how we do high school differently - by replacing it with college.