Understanding Grading Policies: Why did my grade drop?

As a mostly junior and senior newspaper class, we still struggled to figure out the answer to the age old question: “My teacher put another grade in, and my grade went down six percent. Why?”

We got together with our adviser to answer this question for any Crofton High School Students struggling to figure it out. It starts with this question: What grading categories is your teacher using? Most teachers should be using either 80% Assessment and Classwork, 10% Homework, 10% Quarterly Assessment or 50% Assessment, 30% Classwork, 10% Homework, and 10% Quarterly Assessment. If you’re unclear about what model your teacher uses, check the syllabus or ask them.

Once you know the categories, remember that calculation depends on the total number of points possible in each category. So let’s say that your teacher used 80/10/10. Your calculations might look something like this:

  • 80% Assessment & Classwork: The teacher entered assignments with a total of 120 points possible
  • 10% Homework: The teacher entered assignments with a total of 30 points possible
  • 10% Quarterly: The quarterly was worth 100 points.

An unnamed newspaper staffer volunteered their actual grades to help us practice. They had a 96 before a teacher entered grades, including enough to drop a grade to a 90%. We helped this individual figure out why this happened.

  • The student earned a 106.5 points out of the 120 possible Assessment & Classwork points, which means that 80% of their grade comes from 106.5/120, or 88.75%
  • The student earned 29/30 points possible in Homework, or 96.66%
  • The student thinks they probably got a B on the Quarterly, so that could be 80/100 possible points, or 80%.

One way to calculate is to think of the total of all categories as 100. That would mean that to figure out how much the student’s grade was impacted, we would multiply the percentage correct by the weights. So we would do:

  • 88.75% times 80 = 71
  • 96.66% times 10 = 9.66
  • 80% times 10 = 8
  • 71 + 9.66 + 8 = 88.66

Alternatively, you can look at this helpful chart, using a different weighting and example, and plug in the weights, total points, points earned, and then math:

Category Weight Total Points earned Total points possible  Weight times (points earned/points possible)
Assessment 50 70 102 50 * (70/102) = 34.31
Classwork 30 70 80 30 * (70/80) = 26.25
Homework 10 40 40 10 * (40/40) = 10
Quarterly 10 28 45 10 * (28/45) = 6.22 
Total grade  76.78

Want to calculate using a spreadsheet? Staff writer Kennedy Davey put together this spreadsheet, which you can make a copy of and use to input numbers and figure out how your grade works.