Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Are Grades Important?

I receive a weekly enewsletter from HSLDA, and found something in today's that I thought was worth sharing. I apologize that I don't post very often on this blog, but there just isn't, in my opinion and in my homeschool life, enough to blog about on a more consistent basis. I will post as often as I find things that I think are worth sharing, and I will gladly post anything you would like to see or know more about if you leave me a comment telling me what you're looking for.

HSLDA does a weekly radio program entitled "Home School Heartbeat", and Mike Smith interviewed Lesha Myers, homeschool mom and author of Making the Grade, to get a perspective on how important grades are for homeschoolers.

Lesha explained that they are important for several reasons: 1) to give our kids a target/goal to reach for, and 2) because transcripts are needed, not just for college, but also for things like student drivers' classes and insurance.

Lesha went on to explain that the Bible even mentions grading, though not in the exact words or context of what we may think:

"I was surprised because I had thought that grading was a secular concept, but it's not! A while back, I was reading Kings and Chronicles for my devotions, and I noticed a recurring phrase that summed up the reign of each king of Judah in Israel. It was either, 'and he did right in the sight of the Lord, like his father, David,' or 'and he did evil in the sight of the Lord,' or something in between. And I realized that God was grading the King! He set a standard, the life of David, and then he evaluated each king according to the standard and He summed up his evaluation -- gave a grade, if you will, in a phrase.
The Bible also says quite a bit about testing. For example, Jesus Christ tested his disciples as a part of their training. Before he fed the 5,000, Jesus asked Phillip to provide bread for the multitude, and in John 6:5, it says, 'He asked this only to test him, for He already had in mind what he was going to do.' The test was for Phillip's benefit, so that he would grow in his faith and trust in the Lord. Grading is a very Biblical concept. There are quite a few principles we can glean from the Bible's pages."

Lesha also said that there is no wrong way of grading and that we need to decide what works for our own family.


  1. I have been homeschooling for over 15 years. I am the mother of ten children and have also addressed this issue through the years. As my children have grown up, taken ACT tests, had to qualify for the NCAA, apply for college, etc., there has been a need for very good record keeping as well as test taking abilities and other skills that we don't necessarily feel are important in the homeschool environment.

    The truth is, there are abilities out there that belong to the secular world that are not right or wrong, but just the way things are done. Our children need to be trained to achieve in that world too in order for them to be successful. I have never liked the public school grading system. I don't think it is always fair as grades are often manipulated by extra credit points, attendance, cheating, or subjectiveness. Grades don't always reflect the actual academic ability of an individual. So, I have steered away from A-F grading at home. I believe true education is about learning and not about grading. I like to give my children however long it takes to understand a principle completely. Now, having said that, I know the world of grades is not like that and they will participate in that world eventually. So, I am always challenging them to learn to think quickly and acurately, to complete their courses well with papers written correctly using good grammer, punctuation, and spelling. I give them spelling tests, math tests, and teach them what the ACT will be like. But, their grades are pass or fail. Either they know the stuff or they don't. Knowing it means knowing it well too. They can take a test over as many times as they need, they re-write papers again and again until they perfect them. This has worked well for me over the years. They know they will not have this kind of learning opportunity when they enter the public arena, but while they are with me, they have the opportunity to learn things thoroughly and at their own pace. There is no need to have holes in their education because they didn't quite understand a concept, but had to move on. As a child gets older they become more and more responsible for their own education. They set goals, achieve according to those goals, and if we have informed them through their younger years, they know what the system is like and are prepared for it.
    So, the only grading I am an advocate of is pass or fail. In the education of a child, I do not believe they are done with the subject until it is completely understood. Only then do I feel they are ready to move on. I also don't want my children developing the idea that we're after grades. We are after knowledge and character.

    A long time homeschool mom

  2. Thank you long-time homeschool mom for your comment. I appreciate that people who read this blog add to it.