# Percentages vs. "total points" grading systems.

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Lindsay.Lou, Aug 21, 2008.

1. ### Lindsay.LouCompanion

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Aug 21, 2008

Does anyone have a strong preference for once system? Why?
(Think high school, that's the grade level I'm doing)

I have to choose between these two systems (for the computerized gradebook that my school uses). I'm leaning heavily towards total points because I feel like it gives me more flexibility. I can give a homework or classroom assignment the exact # of points I think it's worth not just a "homework average" that's worth 20%, you know?

My concern, however, is that it's less intuitive and predictable for the students. I won't be able to say "your test average is worth 50% of your grade" because it will depend. Precisely how much your homework is worth at the end of the quarter is not going to be known right away. It will depend on how many points the tests end up being worth, how many points classroom activities end up being worth and how many we do.

I'm just not sure what to do.

3. ### math_teacherCompanion

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Aug 21, 2008

I am EXTREMELY partial to total points! The kids seem to see each assignment as more of an opportunity to earn points....They can also track their grades and calculate their average at any time by simply adding and dividing -- no percentages to make it more complicated.....

Also, I felt I was able to control the impact of an assignment easier during the marking period by making worth a particular amount of points.....

Its good to have an idea when you go into the first couple days of class (and esp back to school night) what amount of points on average will be used for tests, quizzes, hw, etc...so you can give examples....

Hope this helps!!!

4. ### LoVe 2 TcHCompanion

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Aug 22, 2008

I teach Jr high... I do total points and each assignment has a different weight in my gradebook. The only reason I do the weight system is because we have a computer system that does the calculating. If I had to do it by hand, I would have some assignments be worth more points than others.

I agree, points is an easy way for kids to keep track of their own grades.

5. ### supertaz93Rookie

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Aug 22, 2008

From my experience in using percentages, I would recommend total points. Kids can keep track of their own grades. There was also a glitch in the way the electronic grading system rounded percentages. I don't remember the specifics but it made a difference in several student's grades when I calculated by hand. If you like the idea of percentages, you can still use it in a total points format. For example, if you wanted to have homework worth 25%, quizzes 25% and tests 50%, you could have 400 pts total where 100 are homework, 100 are quizzes, and 200 are from tests.

6. ### RockguykevConnoisseur

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Aug 22, 2008

Percentages are ridiculously hard for parents and students to understand.

Like Taz just said, you can ultimately makes points work as percentages anyway.

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Aug 22, 2008

I don't teach this level, but what happens if you decide to give an extra quiz for some reason? Or an extra assignment that wasn't planned before hand?

I'm just thinking of reteaching or times when something else comes up? Are you not able to do this?

8. ### Lindsay.LouCompanion

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Aug 22, 2008

I think I might be confused on your question, but I think these situations are where total points is so beneficial. Extra assignments can just be assigned a point value and added in.

9. ### BrendanFanatic

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Aug 22, 2008

I am not a fan of straight total points. I tried it this year and my big problem about it was that I had to take the time to assign point values accordingly so that my assignment grades did not out weigh the tests and quizzes. Also I grade every assignment for accuracy and it as tough to grade each assignment like this and give the assignments a low point value. I also did not like the fact that if I was not diligent in assigning point values my grade would not be reflective of the way I want. With percentages I always know how everything will play out.

With percentages in the past I have done two things. I have just recorded all grades as a percent (meaning everything has the same weight) and I have recorded each grade as points earned/possible so that assignments graded out of a larger point value will have a greater weight within their respective categories.

This year I am just recording as points earned/possible with in each category and the occasional assignment may be worth 2-3 grades. My percentages are set up like this:

AP US History:
40%: Tests, Major Projects, and Papers.
25%: Quizzes
35%: Homework, Classwork, and AP Writings.

Geometry CP:
25%: Quizzes and Binder (2 times per week)
25%: Homework and Classwork
50%: Tests

US I Honors:
35%: Tests and Major Papers/Essays/Projects
25%: Quizzes and Binder Checks
20%: Homework
20%: Classwork
**Minor projects and essays can be a hw, cw, or quiz grade.

10. ### Lindsay.LouCompanion

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Aug 22, 2008

So Brendan, you essentially do total points within a percentage system? This is interesting, because my main problem with percentages is that all assignments in one "category" (e.g. Tests, Homework) are given equal value. I like that total points allows me to give a more involved homework more weight than a less involved one.

With your system, though, I could do that within the categories, but still have a percentage system to make sure that the total impact of a category is fixed. I like that, I'm going to have to give it more thought. Thanks!

11. ### mmswmModerator

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Aug 22, 2008

My system is similar to Brenden's. I do total points within a catagory, then each catagory is worth a percentage of the final grade. I had to get our IT guy to help me set it up in the electronic gradebook, but it worked out perfectly.

12. ### BrendanFanatic

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Aug 24, 2008

That is exactly what I do. I like it because in my AP class I can make a workbook assignment a 25 point homework grade and then make a DQB a 75 point homework grade.

13. ### krysmorgsuCohort

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Aug 24, 2008

I'm thinking of using the total point system in my classes. My co-op teacher used it, and I liked the flexibility and the fact that students who test poorly can still keep their grade afloat by doing well on all their assignments. I remember my days of school figuring out how one test I bombed was going to affect me - and the pain in college of having straight As in one class but doing poorly on the final and my grade being pulled down to a B+.
Anyway, could some of you either post or PM me HOW you explain the point system on your handout to students. I was never quite happy with my co-op's explanation - it seemed a little confusing for the student. I could just use some help in presenting it. Also, do any of you count in class participation points? How do you work those out - are they preset? Do you say, give 20 points total for class participation, or do you actually do a percentage for that part?

14. ### BrendanFanatic

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Aug 26, 2008

I would say something like: grades are based on total points system with no weighted grades. The following formula is used to determined grades: total points earned by student/ total points avaliable.

Lindsay, what system did you end up using?

15. ### Dr McNuggetNew Member

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Dec 26, 2008

That's the question I had about it for my first 2 years as a teacher. I finally realized that a "Total Points" system wasn't out of 100, so I didn't have to plan each assignment and each worth -- imagine how few points each assignment would have to be worth to equal 100. A test could only be worth something like 5 points and homework would have to be worth only 1!

But then I finally realized that the Total Points system actually works from a much larger tally. I currently have 30 assignments whose values total to 460 points. One student has earned 452 of those points, so she has a 98. Another student has earned only 65 of those points (not a typo) so he has a 14.

Count me as another teacher fully on board with the Total Points system. Much more flexibility for both the students and the teacher!

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Dec 27, 2008

I prefer percentages, because I don't like grading assignments using different point values. I think it is easier for students and parents to understand how a student did on one particular assignment when everything is graded consistantly (i.e. out of 100 points).

17. ### ShanooHabitué

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Dec 27, 2008

I've done both. Last year I used total point and this year I'm using a method similar to Brendan's and, to be honest, I like Brendan's system a lot better.

18. ### MsMarFanatic

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Dec 27, 2008

I use total points and am very happy with it. Students know that an in-class project worth 55-85 points carries the same weight as a test, which are usually 70-100 points. They also know that the smaller 10 point assignments do add up, but it won't kill their grade if they miss a couple or do poorly on one.

I hated using percentages in a class I took over last year that had class participation as 30% and I found it hard to justify having 30% of their grade be devoted to that. Since I took over the class for a maternity leave I had to keep the system, but it really made me want to not use it in my future classroom. Also, projects were worth 15%, so if a student struggled on tests and already had a 100% in the projects part of the grade (they usually did 3 projects per quarter), they couldn't help their grade at al by doing a really good project. It was mighty tough explaining to a hard working (but poor test taker) 12 year old that her grade of 92% would drop if the next project she handed in was anything less than 100%.

19. ### HMMCohort

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Dec 27, 2008

I always use percentages. If I need to I can place weights on scores within a category (quizzes/exams/projects/...ect) if I want one item to count for more.

20. ### Lindsay.LouCompanion

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Dec 27, 2008

I ended up using that exact system...total points earned/total points available

21. ### WindyCityGal606Enthusiast

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Dec 27, 2008

I will be using total points next quarter instead of my current percentage system. Children just understand it better when they see how many points an assignment is worth instead of telling them that certain types of work are weighted differently. From what I'm reading, there seem to be many advantages to total points.

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