Mastering the Grading System: What Every Parent Should Know
- Monday, May 10, 2010
Accurate GPA Calculations
Every subject that is listed on a high school transcript must have a quality evaluation (grade) and a credit assignment (usually expressed in terms of Carnegie Units) attached to it. After you have gathered this information, you can calculate the student's GPA by following these simple steps:
1. Make a chart or grid that provides space for five columns. Label these respectively as Subject, Grade, Grade Points, Credit, Extension.
2. Fill in the grid with the list of subjects your student has studied, the grade earned, and the appropriate number of grade points for that grade (usually determined on a 4.0 scale where A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1, and F=0). Note that some folks prefer to use decimal increments to reflect plus and minus grades. This practice varies by locale, as do the actual decimal increments. Since your homeschool is not a satellite of the local public system, you do not need to feel obligated to match what the schools in your area are doing. You have the freedom to set your own policies, but you also have the responsibility to communicate clearly what your procedures are.
3. Pretend that you see a multiplication sign between the Grade Points column and the Credit column on your chart. The number that you will write in the Extension column will be the product of the numbers on either side of that multiplication sign. If you also pretend that there is an equal sign between the Credit and Extension columns, you'll get the calculation absolutely right!
4. Add the total number of credits.
5. Add the total number of extension products.
6. Divide the extension total by the credit total to achieve a final GPA. Most colleges require that this number be rounded to two places behind the decimal point.
It is best to avoid using Pass/Fail grades for high school courses. Since "Pass" achieves only one grade point, it calculates as a "C" grade and thus negatively affects the final GPA. If you don't want to grade a high school course with the customary A-B-C scale, then list the item as an activity rather than a subject in the academic history section of the transcript.
Never compute GPA's for each school year and then average the results for the four years to achieve a final GPA. Because each year will likely have a different number of subjects in it and the subjects may have different weights, depending on whether they earn a half or whole Carnegie Unit of credit, it is crucial to count each course as an individual entity.
A "weighted" grade is appropriate for courses that are advanced, such as college courses taken during the high school years (these should be listed on high school transcripts), AP courses, or Honors courses. To "weight" a grade, simply add one extra point to the Grade Points column for that subject before completing steps 3-6. In effect, this extra point will give you a 5-point "A" on a 4-point scale, and so on.
*This article published on May 12, 2010.
Inge Cannon has served the homeschool movement for twenty-five years and is currently the executive director of Education PLUS, a publishing and teaching ministry dedicated to helping home-educating parents maximize the benefits of a tutorial lifestyle in their families. She is the author/seminar instructor of Transcript boot camp on DVD, a thorough four-hour presentation about high school planning and transcript documentation. Her TranscriptPro software gives the professional edge to every parent and is extremely easy to use. Details are available at www.homeschooltranscripts.com and www.edplus.com.
Copyright 2009. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Spring 2009. Used with permission. Visit them at www.TheHomeschoolMagazine.com. For all your homeschool curriculum needs visit the Schoolhouse Store.
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