One of the areas that many homeschooling parents have questions about is grading—how to properly evaluate their teens’ work. Grading is very important during the high school years, since the final grade from each course will be recorded on the high school transcript and used to calculate your teen’s grade point average (GPA).

(If your student has special needs and you’re not sure if grading is appropriate for their academic experience, we encourage you to reach out to HSLDA’s Special Needs Consultants for guidance.)

Grading is an art, not an exact science. Even public and private schools will differ in the manner in which grades are awarded—a student receiving an A at one school will not necessarily have displayed the same mastery and effort as another student receiving an A at a different school. But don’t let the subjectivity of grades deter you from doing your best to evaluate your teen’s knowledge and skill in each course.

Realize that grades are important feedback for your teen. After completing a job or task, it’s reasonable to ask, “How did I do?” Evaluating and grading your teen’s work helps answer that question. Your student can rejoice in progress made or pay attention to an area that needs additional study.

Grading different types of assignments

Some assignments lend themselves easily to calculating grades. For example, the answers to most questions on a math test are objectively correct or incorrect. Simply divide the number of correct answers by the total number of questions on the test to calculate a percentage score that easily converts to a letter grade based on your grading scale. A calculator can be used to convert test scores into percentages, or you can pick up an inexpensive teacher’s percentage grading scale at an educational store that converts the scores to percentages for you.

Writing assignments pose a bit more of a challenge when evaluating. Decide ahead of time what components will determine the grade. You could break down an English paper grade into two or three equal categories, such as content and organization, mechanics (grammar and punctuation), and style. Alternatively, you could weight various aspects of the paper, giving more emphasis to certain categories—for example: organization/content (60%), mechanics/style (30%), and effort (10%).

Suppose you awarded your teen 100% for the content component, 80% for mechanics (he or she made some spelling and grammar errors), and 100% for excellent effort. If you chose to weight the English paper as described above, the final grade would be determined this way:

Organization/content (grade times weight): 100% x 60% = 60%

Mechanics/style: 80% x 30% = 24%

Effort: 100% x 10% = 10%

Final grade: 60% + 24% + 10% = 94%

It is reasonable to deduct points from your student’s final score for turning in late or incomplete work. You are teaching more than academics—you are training your teen in time management, too.

Rubrics can be helpful in determining your grading approach for an assignment. Learn more about them and find sample rubrics at How to Use Rubrics to Assess My Child.