Establishing a Grading System

Grades are essential for teachers. They allow you to know at a glance how a particular student is doing. Your grading method also enables you to talk to parents about a child’s progress effectively. Without establishing an effective grading system before the year starts, tracking student progress and looking for gaps in student learning is much more difficult.

First Things First

Before developing a grading system of your own, talk to both your administrator and your colleagues. Many schools have adopted systems of grading already, and you won’t need to create one. Even if your school doesn’t have a grading standard, you may discover that your department does. For instance, many English departments have created a grading rubric that each teacher uses to grade essays, and a schedule of assignments.

Teachers Grade Book

While you’re talking grading with your colleagues, find out if your school provides grading books for teachers, or if you will need to purchase one. Many schools have moved to electronic records. If yours has, be sure to spend time learning how to use the software before the school year starts.  

Think Through Your Year

If you need to design your own grading system, you’ll need to spend some planning time at the beginning of each year. Review the academic standards for your grade level and/or subjects. How will your students show you that they’ve mastered those essential skills? Many teachers use a combination of homework, quizzes, tests, projects, and classroom participation to determine a student’s mastery.

At this stage, you don’t need to plan out every day of the school year. Your goal is to take a broad sweep through the content you’ll cover. Try to determine about how many tests you’ll be giving, what sorts of projects you’ll engage your students in, and what an appropriate amount of homework would be.

Plan Your Grading Scales

Now that you have an idea of what types of items will be graded, you can decide on the grading scales to use. If you assign a number value to your assignments based on item, your scale will start coming together. Try to pick numbers that are easy to work with; 100, 50, 25, and 10 are common point values teachers assign.

If you decide that each test will be worth 100 points, projects will be worth 50, and homework will be 10, you will have a general idea of how many points are possible for your class. This system is weighted. That means the tests influence a student’s score more than homework.

Once you’ve assigned some basic points, you can decide how those points will transfer into standard letter grades if that’s what your school uses. Here’s one example, based on an assignment worth 100 points:

94-100: A

90-93: A-

88-89: B+

84-87: B

80-83: B-

78-79: C+

74-77: C

70-73: C-

68-69: D+

64-68: D

60-63: D-

>59: F

Now you have the pieces in place to explain your grading system to both students and parents. It’s a good idea to have this in writing, and pass it out to your students at the beginning of the school year. Many teachers include grading information it in their class syllabus.

Pick a System and Stick to It

It’s not fair for your students if you suddenly change your grading method midway through the quarter. Try to pick a system and stick to it for an entire grading period. If you do need to change, ensure that you explain yourself both orally and in writing, and make certain that students don’t suddenly find themselves with a much lower grade than they had before.

Grading Calculator

Grading calculators can help expedite the grading process. There are many online and app forms available for teachers. If you don’t like the first one you try, there are many others to choose from.

Grading calculators don’t need to be high tech. You can also create your own grading guide, or use this free printable version. Aids like these increase your grading efficiency, as you don’t have to stop and calculate percentages for every assignment. You simply look at the chart to find the intersection of points available and points earned, and the math is done for you.

Grades Are Data

Grades don’t just measure student progress; they also provide valuable data for teachers. They give you insight into what your students have learned and what they may not understand yet. You can use this data to improve your instruction and help all of your students make progress.

Have you established a grading system? Have you discovered or created a great grading resource? We’d love to hear your grading tips and tricks.

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