Oh the excitement of the “report card day”! It was not really new information about my academic progress, I knew what grades I had made on those anxiety ridden tests and quizzes, but it was an important cumulative report. Often, though I knew what it would say I was disappointed. Sometimes however, I was pleased and I was always especially interested to read the comments. Those comments seem to either reinforce my doubts or encourage my heart with hope.
Depending on your state homeschool regulations (which you can find through this map), one of the following is probably true for you:
- You DO NOT have to keep grade records in your permanent homeschool files.
- You DO have to keep grade records in your permanent homeschool files but the state does not specify any certain template or specific information be included.
- You DO have to keep grade records in your permanent homeschool files and they give you a specific template to use, and tell you how to fill it out.
- You are homeschooling a highschooler and the college(s) they would like to apply to have specific credit and grade requirements.
If your state falls under category 1 or 2 above, this post is for you.
My Theory on Grading
Making the report card is as easy as filling out a template (don’t miss our free one below). Knowing how to grade is where things get difficult.
I personally believe that if a person has the knowledge and/or understands the concept well enough to explain it and/or teach it to someone else, that material has been satisfactorily learned. Therefore, I don’t put a whole lot of emphasis on the numeric grades and I don’t teach to a test.
Anyone can memorize and repeat (and somethings DO need to be memorized, don’t get me wrong) but understanding and use of the information in day to day life and conversation is far more important to me than numbers on a report card.
I remember the pressure to perform on tests, and the anxiety that caused me as a child and a teen. I also remember the “I quit” feeling after having spent hours studying for a test, and doing my best, only to learn that I did not pass with a “qualifying” grade. When I got that test back with the red marks all over it and the ugly red grade at the top of the page, there is NO WAY that was motivating me to try harder. I felt like my hard work had been rejected, not rewarded. And rejection is not a good feeling.
Tests should be evaluations, not performances. We should be periodically evaluating where the student is in the mastery of the material for the purpose of being capable of using the material and teaching it to others is a much less stressful and more fair way to learn.
If my child hasn’t mastered something on an evaluation, no pressure. We just go back through it, and re-teach and re-study until they do understand and have mastered the material. Likewise, if they master it ahead of schedule, we move on to the next thing.
I believe there are two types of grading systems.