How to Homeschool High School: What Assignments to Grade and How

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How to Homeschool High School: What Assignments to Grade and How

How to Homeschool High School: What Assignments to Grade and How

When I was homeschooling middle school and elementary school with my kids, I rarely graded anything. My goal, at that time was to encourage my homeschoolers to love learning. I did not need grades to do that. We graded spelling tests and would re-take them until I was sure the kids had mastery of the words, but that was about it.

Then we got to high school. In high school grades count! After all, we have to have a transcript with credits and grades and GPA!

So I had to adjust some goals for high school and start grading things. The question was: What should I grade? How do I grade?

One of the first things I learned was: There’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school! That means, there’s not ONE right way to grade. Each teen is different: different goals, different abilities, different needs. That said, there are some guidelines you can use to help.

What Assignments to Grade and How

The first thing you need to do when deciding what and how to grade, is to clarify your goals for each subject. You do not need to get all stressed about it, but it will help if you write these goals down.

For a reluctant or struggling learner, you might want to keep goals simple.

Grade generously, if they deserve it. (You get to decide what that means. For instance, for all of my kids, there was an “attitude” component to subjects they did at home. This replaced what might be a “class participation” grade in a group or co-op class. So my kids who did their work but had a bad attitude, their grade reflected that- because one of my goals was to develop character.)

For average learners, you may grade more assignments

But you may allow re-takes and re-do’s in classes that will matter to life success. In these courses you would be aiming for mastery of a subject, which is more important than a grade on a transcript.

For college-bound learners, you may want to grade many assignments

  • Grading many assignments will benefit a college-bound teen in several ways:
  • Gets them used to being graded (if they had one of those ungrading parents)
  • Helps them learn to work for a grade (I know that’s hard for those of us who have worked against that, but teens need to learn to set grade-earning goals for good transcripts.)
  • Helps them learn to use tools, such as rubrics and syllabi, that they will be using in college
  • Helps them develop self-discipline

For most subjects, you can follow these three variations of grading (we will discuss writing assignments in more detail below):

(Also check out this Homeschool Highschool Podcast episode about assigning grades.)

Grade only quizzes, tests and projects

  • Daily homework assignments are required work but not graded.
  • Make sure you are clear with your teen how the grading is done. (If you have a syllabus, you can include this information.) You can say quizzes might count 30% of the grade. Tests and projects would count the other 70%. (Adjust percentages according to your preference- there is not a standardized formula for this.)
  • For many assignments, you can use a rubric (included in 7Sisters writing guides or make your own).
  • For Math, Vocabulary, Literature Guides and Textbooks, use the answer key for grading. (7Sisters curriculum includes answer keys.)

Grade tests, projects, daily assignments and attitude/participation

  • This is a good way to grade when you know you need to stay on top of comprehension and attitude. In this case, you will be doing a lot of grading but it will help those teens who need this level of supervision.
  • In a case like this you might grade: tests and projects 75%, daily assignments 15% and
    participation/attitude 10%. (Again, adjust percentages according to your preference.)
  • For many assignments, you can use a rubric (included in 7Sisters writing guides or make your own).
  • For Math, Vocabulary, Literature Guides and Textbooks, use the answer key for grading. (7Sisters curriculum includes answer keys.)

Grade tests, projects and participation/participation

  • Same as above but skip the daily assignments.

Assign grades according to your goals and your teen's abilities.

Okay, now for a little bit on writing assignments:

English/Language Arts:

ELA has 5 different components:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Vocabulary
  • Grammar
  • Public Speaking

Writing is complicated and will have very different goals for different learners. Here are some suggestions:

For a reluctant or struggling learner

You might want to keep the goals simple: Was your teen able to complete the assignment? You might start with a Pass/Fail system.

As the year progresses, work slowly to increase expectations. Begin to grade but grade generously and explain how you are grading. (As you know, 7Sisters Writing Curriculum has rubrics OR you can develop your own.)

We 7Sisters have our teens, no matter which level they are working, do four kinds of writing each year:

Remember, YOU know your homeschool high schooler. Grade according to your goals and what they need.

For average learners

Adjust the numbers and lengths of writing assignments to fit goals, age, and needs. Average learners can have some writing assignments that are just for fun (graded pass/fail). Poetry and short stories would be a good example of this. These writing assignment teach word usage and thinking skills but sometimes can feel intimidating to students without much experience. Build these good skills with a generous grading system.

Grade essays and research paper assignments using a rubric. Make sure your teens use the same rubric to guide their writing. They can grade themselves with the rubric before passing it onto you for official grade. Here’s a guide for creating your own rubrics, but as you know 7Sisters Writing curriculum includes rubrics. Allow re-dos until the grade is A-level.

Grading poetry can be different. Here’s a post with tips.

For college-bound learners

You can use the same guidelines as those for average learners but I would not suggest re-dos after a final draft is handed in. (Rough drafts can have a gazillion re-dos.)

Grade each assignment using a rubric. Make sure your teens use the same rubric to guide their writing. They can grade themselves with the rubric before passing it onto you for official grade. Here’s a guide for creating your own rubrics, but as you know 7Sisters Writing curriculum includes rubrics.

Okay, let’s get real about this. We asked our homeschool friends for a few tips about grading.

Here’s what our wonderfully honest friend, Ticia, at Adventures in Mommydom said:

Grading: Lock myself in a room with a pile of papers, proceed to grade said papers and grumble about how I’m so put upon, and why didn’t I do this earlier? Try to decipher handwriting and generally complain about how I hate grading. Give work back to kids that needs correcting.
When done disappear into my bedroom with a giant cup of Dr Pepper, maybe some chocolate, a book, and run a bath for myself.

Remember: There’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school! There’s not ONE right way to grade. YOU decide what’s best for your teen’s goals. As long as you are honest, you have a lot of leeway!

 

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How to Homeschool High School: What Assignments to Grade and How

Vicki Tillman

Blogger, curriculum developer at 7SistersHomeschool.com, counselor, life and career coach, SYMBIS guide, speaker, prayer person. 20+year veteran homeschool mom.

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