Many homeschool parents grade student work. But you may be surprised to know that some homeschoolers do not grade papers at all.
Why do some families find it important to grade papers when others find it a waste of time — even detrimental to student success? Turns out, grading is a matter of perspective that aligns with the homeschooling approach and philosophy of learning.
Check this list of pros and cons to decide how you feel about the grading debate:
Why award grades (PROs)?
- Students get a sense for how they’re doing. Older and mature students are able to utilize this information in different ways to change study habits or maximize performance differently.
- Many children like receiving grades on papers, particularly those withdrawn from school who are used to getting grades for work completed. Some kids prefer numbers, others like letter grades. Some enjoy receiving stickers and encouraging comments, too.
- “Good” grades — for some – are like rewards. Some children need and/or enjoy the sense of satisfaction that good grades bring.
- “Bad” grades may work as incentives for some students. They may stimulate increased work, leading to better performance the next time.
- Other children receive grades in school, why not homeschoolers? Homeschooled kids needing a feeling of “sameness” can feel just like everyone else. They are never left out of the conversation when their friends discuss grades in school.
- Parents may feel the urge to make comparisons with siblings, other children, or children in school settings. Grades provide a means of measurement and comparison with children in the same age category in the same subject areas.
- Assuming grading methods are standardized and used consistently, they provide a measure of progress (up or down) as grades fluctuate throughout the semester or entire school year. They may show patterns or provide clues helpful to making changes throughout the school year.
- In many states, grades are required, or they may be used as a form of student evaluation to satisfy state homeschool requirements.
Why NOT award grades (CONs)?
- In reality, grades are never really accurate, as they tend to reflect other factors having nothing to do with course performance (mood, illness, time of day, course material, methods or products used, etc.). Why bother measuring something if the results aren’t truly useful?
- Low grades can upset and severely disappoint, causing feelings of failure or of being less-than what was expected. Feelings like these are experienced by students, and also by their parents.
- Higher grades may cause undue pressure as students seek to live up to these same levels for the remainer of the course, the year, or even their whole lives.
- Long-term effects of grades include a false impression that students are “good at” or “bad at” concepts and skills which in fact may not be true. Labeling students early on has lasting effects on self-image and worth, in some cases lasting a lifetime.
- Some parents do not use grades correctly or consistently. Without strict controls, grades cannot possibly yield accurate results.
- Measurement and classification using grades is not the only way to observe learning. Support, encouragement and nurturing a love of learning can be achieved in many other ways.
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