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 A to Z Teacher Stuff Forums Percentages vs. "total points" grading systems.

#1
08-21-2008, 03:19 PM
 Lindsay.Lou Companion Join Date: Jun 2008 Posts: 225 NY High School
Percentages vs. "total points" grading systems.

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.

#2
08-21-2008, 05:44 PM
 math_teacher Companion Join Date: Jul 2008 Posts: 140 New Jersey High School Math
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!!!
#3
08-21-2008, 11:20 PM
 LoVe 2 TcH Companion Join Date: May 2005 Posts: 166 So Cal 7th and 8th English & 8th History
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.
#4
08-22-2008, 08:44 AM
 supertaz93 Rookie Join Date: Aug 2005 Posts: 45 Missouri Mathematics
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.
#5
08-22-2008, 11:24 AM
 Rockguykev Connoisseur Join Date: Mar 2008 Posts: 1,673 California Social Studies
Percentages are ridiculously hard for parents and students to understand.

Like Taz just said, you can ultimately makes points work as percentages anyway.
#6
08-22-2008, 11:39 AM
 MissFroggy Aficionado Join Date: Aug 2006 Posts: 3,901
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?
#7
08-22-2008, 04:09 PM
 Lindsay.Lou Companion Join Date: Jun 2008 Posts: 225 NY High School
Quote:
 Originally Posted by MissFroggy 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?
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.
#8
08-22-2008, 05:24 PM
 Brendan Aficionado It's my birthday! Join Date: Jul 2004 Posts: 3,084 MA, USA Prinicpal 7-12 Private School & SS
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.
#9
08-22-2008, 07:28 PM
 Lindsay.Lou Companion Join Date: Jun 2008 Posts: 225 NY High School
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!
#10
08-22-2008, 10:54 PM
 mmswm Moderator Join Date: Nov 2007 Posts: 6,190 The land of fun and sun Former math teacher
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.
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