How to Set-Up a Grade Book

Some teachers are told how to set-up a grade book and others are not. For example, your district may tell you that 40% of the assignments should be test grades and 60% should be daily grades. If your district sets forth these guidelines, then this post is not for you. You are good to go! Just follow those guidelines. If, however, you are not given guidelines and are perhaps looking for suggestions on how to divide up your grades, then this post is for you!

My first year of teaching I had almost no guidelines for how to take grades. I think the only requirement was that I grade at least a few assignments. The grade book technology we had allowed us to set up different categories and have each category represent a different percentage of the final grade for a 6-week grading period. That first year, I began by setting up four categories in the grade book. I don’t remember exactly what the grade book looked like, but it looked something like what is represented below.

Test Grades 30%

Daily Grades 25%

Lab Grades 30%

Homework Grades 15 %

Let me just tell you – Do NOT set up multiple categories like this. It was more work and more stressful for me. Multiple categories did not help me or my students in any way.

That year, I quickly learned that it is best (in my opinion) to stick to two categories: Test Grades & Daily Grades. Below are several options for dividing up the percentages. I personally prefer option 1.

Option #1: Option #2: Option #3:

Test Grades 40% Test Grades 50% Test Grades 60%

Daily Grades 60% Daily Grades 50% Daily Grades 40%

Once you have picked your categories and set the percentage for each category, you must consider which category each assignment will fall under. I personally placed test grades and major projects in the Test Category. Daily assignments, homework, and all effort grades were placed under the Daily Category. You can choose which category a lab falls under based upon the type of lab students are completing. Quizzes can fall under either category, but I generally placed quizzes under Daily Grades. With only two categories, my students know that all assignments are Daily Grades unless I specifically specify something as a Test Grade. I always had a minimum of 2 test grades and 10 daily grades. I have tried to take more than 10 daily grades, so I can drop 1-2 grades. On the rare occasion that we had plenty of test grades, I would also drop one test grade.

These are my basic recommendations. I did something slightly different with my grade book almost every year. My second and third year of teaching, our chemistry PLC chose our grading set-up and categories together so that we were all on the same page. However, my fourth year of teaching, I changed school districts and the grading expectations were already defined for us.

Hope this was helpful!

Happy Teaching :)


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