How to Grade High School Papers

In this post we are answering a reader request: How to grade high school papers.

How to Grade High School Papers. Homeschool high school students write lots of papers. Here is a simple guide to help moms feel confident about grading homeschool high school writing assignments. #HomeschoolHighSchool #HomeschoolLanguageArts #HowToGradePapers #HowToGradeHighSchoolPapers #HowToGradeHomeschoolWritingAssignments

How to Grade High School Papers

We parents of homeschooling high schoolers want to make sure we do things right. Especially if what we do will affect our teens’ transcripts. We also want to be honest, so that transcripts accurately record our students’ academic accomplishments. We also want to be fair, we do not want to grade so harshly that we are causing our teens to despair. 

So, how do we balance our varied responsibilities where it comes to grading our homeschool high schoolers’ papers? Our answer is what it always is at 7Sisters: There’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school (and there’s not ONE right way to grade papers)!

The way you grade papers is determined by:

  • Your goals for each particular paper
  • Your homeschool high schoolers’ personal goals for the course
  • Your homeschool high schoolers’ experience level
  • Your homeschool high schoolers’ grade level
  • Your homeschool high schoolers’ abilities

First, here are some guidelines, then we will give more tips:

  • Your goals for each particular paper

    • Is this paper just for fun?
      • Sometimes you just want teens free-associate out some ideas, just journal style or brainwashing style. These papers should be ungraded or given an easy *A*.
    • Is this a training paper?
      • For instance, is this the first research paper, short story or essay that your teen has officially written? If so, you will set your goals at beginner level. I suggest following the rubric that is included in your curriculum. (7Sisters no-busywork, writing guides include rubrics to help you grade.)
        • Is this paper for a competition or presentation?
          • If so, grade meticulously but allow revisions and regrading. Use the rubric in your teen’s curriculum.

Introduction to Essay Writing

  • Your homeschool high schoolers’ personal goals for the course

    • One of the loveliest things about homeschooling high school is helping teens to own their academics by giving them say in the courses they will take in high school. They should also have a say in the goals for the course. For instance:
    • If they are college bound, writing courses should be at minimum College Prep. For students aiming for an English or Humanities major, or who are planning to apply to a state college or competitive college, they should probably be aiming for Honors-level writing experiences. Discuss this with them before the school year begins and at the start of each writing assignment. Then use guidelines for Honors-level writing.
    • If they are not college bound and expert-level writing is not their goal, you can grade more gently. Simply adapt each rubric you use for grading to match your goals and your teens’ goals.

APA style research paper

  • Your homeschool high schoolers’ experience level 

Introductory Guide to Poetry Writing

  • Your homeschool high schoolers’ grade level

    • As in experience level, the grade level matters in rigor of grading. You will expect more of a junior than you would of a freshman.
  • Your homeschool high schoolers’ abilities

    • Homeschool high schoolers come in many different learning abilities and disabilities. If your teens have writing difficulties, it is wise to adapt their writing assignments to meet their educational goals. Also, adapt the rubrics to meet those goals. One great resource for help in adapting goals and curriculum is SPED Homeschool

Family Narrative Guide

Once you know your goals and expectations, create or adapt a rubric

If you are not familiar with rubrics, it can sound intimidating. However, it is just *education speak* for guidelines for grading. You should give a copy to your homeschool high schoolers also (and discuss it) so that they can monitor their own progress.

Here are a few examples of expectations you might include on your homeschool high schoolers’ rubrics:

  • Proper spelling
  • Proper language mechanics (punctuation and grammar)
  • Rich vocabulary (and used in proper context)
  • Varied sentence lengths used
  • Rules for the paper are followed (7Sisters writing curriculum gives guidelines for writing assignments, so teens know what to expect)
  • Idea or thesis of the paper is clearly developed
  • No plagiarism used
  • Valid references used
  • Properly formatted reference list
  • Proper citations used (Important for research papers. Some essays need citations.)
High School Writing Assignments. Don't grade them all alike. Match grading teen's papers to clear expectations for good learning experiences.

You can assign points to each of the expectations that you choose and weight the points so that those expectations that are most important to this paper, get the most points.

Want more ideas? If you have a homeschool high schooler writing papers for history and science, here are some rubric ideas.


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How to Grade High School Papers

Vicki Tillman

Blogger, curriculum developer at, counselor, life and career coach, SYMBIS guide, speaker, prayer person. 20+year veteran homeschool mom.

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