How to Calculate Elementary Grades

Correctly calculating elementary grades enhances learning for students.
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Grading can be a time of dread or joy for both teachers and elementary students. However one feels about it, grading elementary students on their progress is an essential step in helping guide future instruction as well as a way to keep students and their parents informed of their achievements and areas of need. There are two methods of calculating elementary grades, each offering advantages and disadvantages. When used appropriately, both methods can help students grow as learners.

Traditional Method: Averaging

    Within each subject area, add up the total amount that the assignments, tests or quizzes were worth within the grading period. This will give you the total amount of points possible for the grading period. The grading period usually occurs in quarters, trimesters or semesters. For example, a grading period for math may have five different grades that are worth 20 points, 10 points, 20 points, 15 points and 50 points each. These assignments add up to a total of 115 points for the math grading period.

    Add up the total amount of points that the student earned for the assignments within the grading period. As an example, a student may have earned 11 points, 9 points, 20 points, 15 points and 48 points for the five math assignments during the grading period. These points add up to a total of 103 points earned.

    Divide the total amount of points earned by the total points possible in the grading period to get the final grade. For example, 103 (total points earned) divided by 115 (total points possible) equals 0.895. This can then be rounded to .90, or a 90% in math for the grading period. This method can be used in all subject areas.

Standards Based Grading

    Identify a specific skill that will be graded that relates to state standards. In standards based grading, there is not just one grade for each subject, but rather a grade for every skill that is learned within that subject. For example, instead of awarding one grade for math using the averaging method, students can be given three separate grades on multiplying large numbers, long division and addition.

    Analyze the grades that were awarded during the grading period for each skill. Grades will not be given in points but rather with the letters E, M, A and FFB. These letters relate to how well a student has mastered the specific skills. E = Exceeds, M = Meets, A = Approaches, and FFB = Falls Far Below. For example, a student may receive five grades for long division: FFB, A, A, M and M.

    Identify the last two grades that were given in each specific skill. Based on these last grades, you can make a decision on what grade the student deserves for each skill. If the grades comprise FFB, A, A, M and M, the student deserves an M for long division. The student started off struggling with the skill but demonstrated growth and mastery in the skill by the end of the grading period.


    • Both grading systems can be used much more easily with good organizational skills. This can be accomplished by setting up a grade book in a program such as Microsoft Excel. Many schools also have grade book systems that work quite well for the averaging method.

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