So, you've bitten the bullet and decided not to end your homeschooling journey after junior high.  You are entering the high school years and some of the things you embraced about homeschooling are being challenged, such as not giving grades.  High school is a different animal, but not necessarily a scary monster.  You should write course descriptions and keep accurate records.  And, yes, you should give letter grades.  A transcript doesn't carry much meaning to prospective universities if it doesn't have grades.

Relax.  First of all, know that each school district sets its own policies regarding grades.  Sometimes principals set the grading policy for their schools; some schools allow teachers to set their own grading standard.  Some teachers break down grades into the A- and B+ levels; others use a simpler 90% and above is an A; 80% and above is a B, etc.

 What does this flexibility mean for you?  Choice.  You decide how much effort you want to put into giving grades and how specific you wish those grades to be.  There are pros and cons to both, but you are not bound to follow someone else's standard.  Decide what will work best for your homeschool and carry it through all four years of high school.  Make your decision and stick with it.

 Do not, however, succumb to the temptation to pad your child's grades.  Determine what he must do for each subject to earn an "A" and do not give him a grade he has not earned.  Teach him that college professors will not care how much effort he put into his project or how late he stayed up studying for the final.  The professors will have grading standards and will stick to them.  You are doing your child no favors if you grant a higher grade than he has earned.

 Nor are you being fair if you are such a perfectionist that the smallest error results in harsh consequences.  Set a standard that is fair and enforceable.

 For example let's look at a high school study for Total Language Plus.  When you write your course description, include your grading plan.  You might say that grades will be given based on accuracy, neatness and timeliness.  Daily work (vocabulary, spelling and grammar worksheets) will be awarded points for being completed neatly and on time.  The accumulated points will contribute to 20% of the grade.  30% of the grade will come from scores on spelling and vocabulary tests.  Essays will make up 50% of the grade.

 Now, make it clear what your student must do to earn the grade he wants.  One straightforward method uses this standard:

90% and above = A     80 - 89% = B     70 - 79% = C     60 - 69% = D

 A more complex grading system usually follows this break down:

97% and above = A 

94 - 96% = A-

91 - 93% = B+

87 - 90% = B

84 - 86% = B-

81 - 83% = C+

76 - 80% = C

73 - 75% = C-

 In my next blog, I will discuss grading high school essays.

Barbara Tifft Blakey