How to Homeschool Without an Answer KeyJenn Hamrick
Some curriculum doesn’t include an answer key for grading or evaluating. And even if your homeschool program does have an answer key, there may be certain questions or assignments with the nebulous “answers will vary” response. Why does your homeschool need these open ended questions and how should you handle them? Watch the video or read the summary below.
The Many Benefits of Open-Ended Assignments Without Answer Keys
When there is no clearly defined answer, you can focus on the process over the product. There are dozens of benefits to your child or teen as a result of working through open-ended projects.
- Research and investigation experience
- Reporting skills
- Analysis of information
- Source evaluation
- Familiarization with the material
- Following instructions
- Acknowledging and understanding grey areas and nuances
- Character training
Without an Answer Key, How do You Evaluate Open-Ended Assignments?
Without a clear-cut answer in a teacher’s manual, here are areas to look at when evaluating homeschool work:
- Adherence to instructions
- Quality of research and sources
- Depth of thought and evaluation
- Creativity and effort
Are There Times When an Answer Key is Needed?
Sometimes you do need test questions or homework assignments that have clear right or wrong answers.
- when you’re testing for knowledge and comprehension, rather than application or evaluation
- when test-taking effort is substantial
- when the subject material lends itself to quantitative, T/F, or black and white answers
- when you must assign a letter grade to a particular assignment (for transcripts, for example)
So What Can a Homeschool Parent Do When Faced With Assignments That Have no Clear Cut Right or Wrong?
When you don’t have an answer key, as these three simple questions.
1. What is actually being evaluated here?
If it’s knowledge and comprehension, then an answer key is called for.
If it’s process, evaluation, observation, analysis, reflection, synthesis, etc., then you may not need it. For example, science experiments, note-taking pages and journaling, and research questions generally won’t.
2. Does this require a grade?
If so, ask “What guidelines can I put into a rubric to make my grading more objective?”
If not, realize that it’s okay to have ungraded work. It’s also okay to award grades for completion and include them in their final grade evaluation.
3. How can I quantify this abstract assignment?
Use a rubric to turn fuzzy guidelines into black-and-white criteria. For example, you can evaluate a piece of writing on structure, clarity, thoroughness, and integrity.
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