By request: How to Homeschool High School: Figuring and Recording First Quarter Grades.
How to Homeschool High School: Figuring and Recording First Quarter Grades
Most traditional schools calculate their students’ first quarter grades and record them on the transcripts. When and why would we homeschoolers want to do that? Let’s talk about that and how to do figure and record those first quarter grades when you need to.
When is it useful to do first quarter grades?
First off, let me remind you. There’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school! So there’s not ONE right way to handle grades and transcripts. One of the beauties of homeschooling is grading and developing transcripts in the right way for YOUR family. That said, here some times that calculating first quarter grades is helpful:
You have a homeschool senior who is applying to four-year colleges
Homeschool high schoolers who are applying to four-year colleges often need to include a transcript with the first-quarter senior year grades. Colleges want to see what kind of academic performance your teen has shown over high school and especially during senior year.
I have heard from admissions officers over the years that colleges are looking for:
- Grades that have stayed steadily high or have improved over the high school years
- Students who continue to practice academic rigor (core courses at higher levels with good grades)
- For more on what colleges are looking for, check out this post and this Homeschool Highschool Podcast interview with Associate Provost Dr. Renae Duncan and this interview with homeschool advisors 7Sister Marilyn Groop and Barb Varnell
To show this, teens need to record their senior year courses on their homeschool transcripts, even though they will not be completed when they send off their college applications in the fall. They will also need to record their first quarter grades (and sometimes send an updated transcript after the first semester grades are complete). Need an editable transcript form and how-tos? Download 7Sisters Transcript Form and Guide. You can get more information in our Authoritative Guide post on transcripts.
You want to motivate your homeschool high schooler to keep up with academics
It is easy to get lost in the weeds of day to day homeschooling life and education. It can be easy for teens to lose site of their goals. In other words, it’s easy to get lazy around mid-semester. Assigning first quarter grades helps teens remember that there is an accountability structure and that they need to stay on top of their studies.
You have a supervisory organization that wants quarterly grades
Many homeschooling families work with some sort of supervisory organization that helps them with academic information, advice, oversight, college and career preparation and more. (In our area they are called umbrella schools. In other areas they are called charter or hybrid schools because they often offer classes. We 7Sisters have all been part of a local umbrella school that we help found.) Some umbrella schools will want quarterly grades. (Ours only required semester grades.)
You want to stay on top of paperwork
It does help homeschool moms stay on top of grading when they issue quarterly grades. Many of us old-timers can remember our end-of-the-year reviews when our kids were young and grades were not important. It was easy to let things slide until we put our portfolios together for the end-of-year reviews. Since grades are an important part of high school, it is not best practices to wait on grading.
Need help with grading? Download this freebie for grading how-tos and rubric. Also, check out this post and this Homeschool Highschool Podcast interview with Ann Karako.
You are doing block scheduling and some courses are completed in a quarter
Block scheduling is useful for courses that only need to earn 1/4 credit or 1/2 credit (or if your homeschool high schooler learns better with this format). If your student is working on a 1/4 credit course, you will probably want to get that course graded and recorded on the transcript.
How to figure and record first quarter grades
If you will calculating first quarter grades, here are some suggestions:
Decide what you will be grading and what percentage of the grade each weighs (you may have already decided this when you created your syllabi):
- Tests (here are some thoughts on how to handle a failed test)
- Class participation (easy to figure in group classes or family discussions, when that has not been available, I have been known to grade on attitude- I know, I’m mean)
7Sisters offers some posts and resources for rubrics to help with grading:
- How to Create Rubrics for Homeschool High Schoolers
- Writing Papers for History or Science? Here’s a Simple Rubric for Grading
- Tips for Grading Papers freebie
- Rubric for Honors Level History and Philosophy of the Western World
- What’s a Rubric and Why Should We Use One?
These rubrics may be tweaked or tossed according you goals and your teens’ needs and goals.
If your teen is behind on anything, sit down together and decide due dates and set up a schedule for completion. Sabrina’s Scheduling Backwards is revolutionary for many moms and teens in realistically scheduling for getting projects done.
If you are behind in grading:
- Organize grading projects:
- Stack tests, papers, projects and homework in piles by course
- Get out your answer keys and rubrics and add them to each course’s pile
- Decide how long you need to devote to grading each day to get it all done
- Start with one course and plug through, assignment-by-assignment, until it is done
Now to assign the quarterly grade:
- Average the graded assignments by type:
- test grades for each course
- paper grades for each course
- project grades for each course
- homework grades for each course
- an average participation grade
- Now plug these averages into the algorithm for each course. For instance, one algorithm I have used for core courses is: tests, projects and papers are all .25 of the grade, homework is .20 of the grade, and class participation is .05 of the grade.
- Record each quarterly grade on the transcript. Note beside the course title: 1st quarter grade.
- Do not assign credit yet, unless the course is only a .25 course.
We generally have not figured quarterly grades into the GPA formula (unless a college specifically asks for it). Again, there’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school, so do what is best for you.
Also, record keeping is important, so check out our Authoritative Guide to Record Keeping for Homeschool High School.
You can do this!
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