My son is going to start 7th next year and I am starting to think about plans for high school only a few years down the road. I haven’t given grades my children thought until now – we don’t write tests for anything other than math — but his best friend just arrived from PS with a straight A report card which made me think that maybe I should start keeping track of grades next year. I don’t really know to go about starting that. I know they won’t count for much in jr high, other than a means of gaging how I am doing teaching the material, but it might be good to get into the habit of keeping those kinds of records. Maybe grades aren’t so important? I know that my son in the same class wouldn’t exactly be failing, but he would not be succeeding as well as he could, either.
So how do YOU handle the issue of grades and reporting? When do you start, or do you, and how do you determine what those grades should be?ScoathyParticipant
I cannot speak to all state regulations, but as far as colleges are concerned the only Grades/Transcript required is in High School. I wouldn’t worry about grades before then unless you want them for your own personal record keeping.artParticipant
I don’t really start til high school for transcript purposes. But we have an 8th grader this year, and we take a few grades for her to see what it’s like.
I started keeping a few for my own benefit in junior high. I did not really stress them with the kids. But I wanted “practice” before those high school transcripts, and so I used the junior high years for practice.4myboysParticipant
That’s kind of what I figured — the not needing to track until high school, but how do you do it? It seems a good idea to get in the habit before it’s really needed. We haven’t used much curriculum besides math that requires tests of any sort, and I believe there is something in the teacher manual that includes a letter grade/percent chart, but I’ve not really bothered with it beyond looking for evidence of mastery.
Do you prefer letter grades, percents, something else? Public elementary schools around here give letter grades, but also rate behaviors (like attitude, neatness, caring for ones personal belongings, respect for others, etc) as “demonstrates:consistently, usually, with prompts, or seldom”. How well a child succeeds depends on their attitude towards learning and how well the teacher presents the material in a way that allows them to understand and connect with the information being taught.
This is what I do. I keep “percents” in the classes we have that have tests (for us, this has included math, science, and Latin.) Then for transcripts I translate this to a letter grade. IMO simple is good–we do the very simple 90 and up is A, 80-89 B, etc. For the more subjective grades–I really don’t accept anything less than an A. So once they satisfy me, I give them an A. One exception to this was my oldest son’s senior year when he managed to not do a great job managing his time, did not complete a research paper he’d been assigned and got graded down for that. (Wasn’t time to make it up because he was leaving home and I had to give him a “finish” to graduate.) We never did stress much over this, and we never did say “OK, here is your grade point average” or anything like that, until I HAD to calculate it for their National Merit apps.petitemomParticipant
I don’t know if it is ok to say this here, that is not very Charlotte Masonish but I am thinking to do something like switch on school house when we get to high school (that is about 2 more years for us) so that I don’t have to worry about that aspect and can focus more on the younger kids.
I still have time to decide though, maybe some of you will make me change my mind!!
I have no plans to create “grades” ever! My limited, evidently naive, idea was that colleges did not need them? Hmm … I better l learn more fast?!?
Claire, there are many colleges to which you can apply using a narrative transcript. There ARE also quite a few who would prefer a normal looking transcript with at least SOME grades. You can sort through school without too much trouble–the ones who would allow your child’s narrative transcript might very well be the ones she’d be happier at anyway. But where you might need to rethink your strategy is in scholarship applications. Many of those do actually require grades. The National Merit app is one of them. College is very expensive, and every bit of scholarship money helps! I’d really think carefully about limiting scholarship apps—some subjects lend themselves quite well to grades (think math.) If your child takes a dual enrollment class, it’ll be graded. If you do an Advanced Placement class, both it and the test will be graded. And most importantly, in COLLEGE your child will most definitely be graded! I’m not so sure you want that first grading experience to be with a cranky calculus professor or a slightly snotty English professor? Maybe a few experiences with good old Mom would be beneficial. If you want to go the totally-narrative-no-grades route, it is actually going to be harder, more work and research for you than the other way. You can pull it off if you really, really need or want to–but your kids, if they are further-education bound at all, are going to need to learn how to play the “grade game” anyway. I like to teach my kids about it before dropping them off at their expensive college to learn about grades, finals and other stuff like that, the hard way. Just a thought to think about.artParticipant
I totally agree with everything Bookworm said–I usually do! I kept grades just like she did in high school. Percents turned into letters.
When my son won a piano scholarship at the local community college, they needed not only a transcript, but a diploma!!! Otherwise he couldn’t have the money. Luckily, we had been in TN for 6 months and had used the umbrella school Home Life Academy (since you can’t homeschool high school without a degree). Since he had been “enrolled” for 6 months, they were able to take all his other high school grades from me and give him a TN state diploma and transcript. So we have been using them to keep our records ever since. All my kids will get a TN diploma, since you don’t get one in Ohio when you graduate homeschool.
I never thought I’d care about the diploma, but like Bookworm said, every bit of scholarship money helps. EVERY BIT! I love the school he’s at now. They have automatic full scholarship for keeping your grades at a certain level. So we didn’t have to pay tuition this semester-yea for grades! I have a new respect for them since my son started college.
Aha! I see your points Bookworm.
I don’t have a high minded philosophical reason for not grading, but it just seems random to me in a CM education. For example, how would I translate something like our Plutarch studies in to a grade each week? We do a lovely drawn narration of each lesson in addition to their oral narrations as we read aloud. Not only do I not see what rubric to use to grade that type of lesson, but I feel more than a little subjective in even doing so.
I homeschool in some part to avoid that idea that they are not competent in a subject because they didn’t “get the grade” in it. I think it’s possible to have stages and phases in life where a subject comes alive … BUT only if you’ve not been ruined for it with schoolish grades or a false sense of failure. Putting a grade to a subject has such permanence.
Wrong is wrong and I get that, and I adhere to that here. But IMO that process is a world of different from placing a less than perfect and permanent grade to a subject. Having said that though my husband (public school man) always tells me that homeschooled grades are always higher than the children he has seen deserve or can perform. I’m afraid I would tend to be much more harsh than lenient with grading. My kids call me Tiger Mom quite a lot! LOL.
Would you mind, if it’s not too involved, explaining how you do your percents and then translate that to grading? I’d love to “see” it better.
Claire, the ones I give percents to are things that come with tests. MathUSee. Apologia biology. Latin in the Christian Trivium. We take the test and I calculate the percent. I also can use some things like attitude or diligence or homework if I want to. But mostly, I am giving my kids practice taking tests–another thing I don’t want them to wait for college to do! My oldest, after finals week his first semester, told me he wished I’d done a traditional “finals week” with five or six finals for him to prepare for all at once–he had a hard time with the pressure of the week. We didn’t really do that, and he wishes we had. For something like Plutarch—I didn’t give a whole year credit in Plutarch. We didn’t do that much of it. I counted it actually as citizenship in our government credit. And we did a whole bunch of things. And I didn’t attempt to give a normal grade for that. I did end up assigning an “A” but I explained in my transcript notes that for subjective courses, the student worked until I determined all the course requirements had been satisfactorily met, and when mastery was demonstrated, I assigned an “A”. I do document what we DO for each class our course I assign credit for, what my objectives were, and how long it took the student to meet them—and so when it’s senior year and I’m assigning credits and grades, everything is right there.
I don’t do grades at younger years for just the reasons you mention–I don’t want to ruin their love of learning by competing for grades–and my kids are competitive. 🙂 BUT grades are a fact of life once they leave my home, and I don’t want to airily say “I didn’t want to ruin you” as they are wildly attempting to prepare themselves for their linear algebra midterm. 🙂 I want to have provided them with some guidance–this is how you prepare for a test. THis is what you do. THis is how you get a good grade. Yes, this is a game, but it’s a game with big stakes, in college. It’s a game that can determine how much you have to PAY for college, where you can go to grad school, etc. YOu need to learn the game at some point. Might as well do it in the high school years in the safety of home.
Thanks Bookworm. Your points are well taken.
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