About Graded Assignments



Grading of Assignments

"Who will grade my high school student's work?"

The courses found in the STAA Study Guides have five major components: 1) independent reading and study of the assigned reading material, 2) weekly scheduled discussions about the coursework, 3) weekly online reading comprehension quizzes, 4) various written assignments that consist of short-answer responses, paragraph responses, essays, book reviews, mapwork, multicolor study sheets, story charts, timelines, special worksheets, testing, etc., and 5) using the gradebook to calculate a quarter grade.  The following chart details which course components are left in the charge of teaching-parents and which are handled by the advisor when taking courses through St. Thomas Aquinas Academy.

Enrolled in the STAA Program Live Class with Graded Discussions Live Class with Graded Assignments
1) Reading Assignments independent; not graded independent; not graded independent; not graded
2) Scheduled Discussions graded by the teaching-parent graded by high school advisor graded by high school advisor
3) Online Quizzes majority are graded by the computer* graded by the computer and the high school advisor* graded by the computer and the high school advisor*
4) Written Assignments graded by the teaching-parent graded by the teaching-parent graded by high school advisor
5) Quarter Grades issued by the teaching-parent issued by the teaching-parent issued by the high school advisor for the teaching-parent to confirm


*Online Quizzes:  Most of the online quizzes are automatically graded by the computer.  Some quizzes require a human person to evaluate a multi-sentence student response.  Students enrolled in live classes will have ALL of their quizzes graded by the computer or their high school advisor.  Students enrolled in STAA that are not presently taking a live class may run across some quizzes that require them to print their multi-sentence response and share it with their teaching-parent during their weekly discussion to obtain a quiz grade.  Such quizzes include instructions and a "(respond and print)" reminder in the quiz name.


Submitting Assignments

"How do we submit assignments for grading?"

It is the responsibility of the student enrolled in the live class to submit the assignments through the STAA Student Zone.  Advisors cannot grade work that is not submitted in the proper place.  Each assignment has a special place on the course page in the Student Zone where assignment files can be uploaded.  The student will use the "submit/upload" dialog box on the Student Zone to find the assignment file on his computer, watch for it to upload to the website, and then click the "Submit assignment" button to watch for the submission receipt message.  The Student Zone will display a confirmation message with a date and time.  The notifications area in the top right corner of the website near the student's name will also keep a log of the submission.

This process will be described during the orientation meeting for each class.  Students may also ask questions about the submission process on the course's Q & A Forum throughout the semester.

"Do my parents need to grade my assignments before I submit them to my advisor?"

No, your teaching-parents do not need to grade your written assignments before you submit them.  You are, however, always welcome to read your work aloud to your parents and discuss possible adjustments before you turn the assignment in for review and grading by your advisor.''

"When are the assignments due?"

All assignments have due dates.  See the official academic calendar to line up the due dates listed in the STAA Study Guides with the calendar due dates.  For instance, if the due date for an assignment is listed as Week 4, Day 5 in the STAA Study Guide, we line that up with the calendar dates on the Academic Calendar to find that day is Friday, September 16.  The Student Zone will mark all assignments as "on time" that are submitted by 11:59 p.m. on that day.

Most courses -- except for writing and reasoning courses -- extend the due date by one day, allowing students to submit their work by 11:59 p.m. on Saturday.  The special, important assignments that have star symbols in their titles use Saturday due dates and have a late-submission window of three or seven days in which students may submit the assignment after the Saturday due date, but they will receive a 10% assignment grade penalty. 

"Can I submit assignments early?"

Yes, students are always welcome to submit assignments early.  It is possible that the assignment will be graded early, though more likely it will be graded just after the original due date.


Late Assignment Policy

"How are late assignments handled?"

Some assignments allow students to submit them up to seven days late.  There is a score reduction of 10% for assignments that are turned in after the due date. 

Here is the full policy regarding assignments.  The policy details how and when to submit assignments to qualify for advisor review and grading of the assignments, where to view advisor reviews and grades throughout the semester, what parents can do if an emergency extension is needed, how parents have final approval over the grade that makes it on the transcript in order to include special and unique circumstances in the final grade, and the like:

Student work must be uploaded to the designated places on the STAA Student Zone during the open submission window in order to receive an advisor review and percentage grade.  Parents may choose to review and grade assignments that students do not finish on time and manually record the grades that they issue for the past due assignments in the printed gradebook.
       Assignments in ♞Black Schedule and ♘White Schedule courses have Saturday at 11:59 p.m. due dates. 
       The most important assignments of each quarter (the essential assignments that are considered work samples) are marked with star symbols (★) and also have Saturday by 11:59 p.m. due dates.  These starred assignments are unique in that they have the standard Saturday due date as well as a late-submission window.  The late-submission window is typically one week.  The late-submission window is reduced to three days if the starred assignment is due the very last week of the course (Week 16, Day 5).  Starred assignments turned during the late-submission window will be reviewed and graded by your advisor, but the percentage grade will be reduced by ten percent.  For clarity: starred assignments that are submitted after the due date and during the late-submission window will incur a 10% grade penalty.
       Assignments that are not starred are important, but they are not as important as the starred assignments.  To guard against making it a habit to turn in assignments at the last minute or using late-submission windows, assignments without stars cannot be turned in late for advisor review and grading.  The assignments that are not starred must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on the Saturdays they are due; these assignments are typically worth fewer points and do not have a late-submission window.
Writing and Math are the two most important subjects every semester for every student and should be given priority over all other coursework.  To encourage prioritizing coursework in the writing and reasoning courses, the due dates for assignments in these courses are Fridays by 11:59 p.m.  A one-day late-submission window will be open for these courses, but that means assignments submitted on Saturdays are subject to the 10% grade penalty.  Our goal is to review and grade all assignments submitted on or before the Friday due dates in time to release the reviews to students before the Tuesday live class meetings.  For clarity:  Assignments in Composition I and II, Essay Writing B, Logic, Essay Writing A, and Critical Reading are due on Fridays by 11:59 p.m.; the late-submission window for these assignments closes the following day.
All due dates and late-submission windows reflect our desire that Sundays are left entirely for worship, family time, and rest.  The STAA Student Zone does not shut down on Sundays, but students are never expected to use Sundays for coursework.  

Quarter Grades and Parental Authority over Grades: Quarter grades will be calculated by the advisor based on the assignments that are submitted by the due dates or during any open late-submission windows.  Assignments that are not properly submitted through the STAA Student Zone during the "on time" or "late assignment" periods are automatically marked with a zero by the computer system. Parents are welcome to supersede this zero score by grading the late assignment on their own and recording that grade manually in the printed version of the course's gradebook. Your advisor and the computer system will not have a record of this change so the parent will need to manually recalculate the grade the advisor issues at the end of the quarter to reflect the special changes the parent authorized for his or her student.  The STAA Student Zone shows the status and grades of all class meetings, quizzes, and assignments throughout the entire semester--1) log in as a parent and click on the "Your Students" resource at the very bottom of the website or 2) log in as the student and click on "My Grades" at the top of the website.  The advisor assignment reviews and scoring on individual essay questions are only available for viewing when logged in as the student.  At the end of the semester, the advisor will download the percentage grades from the STAA Student Zone and calculate the official quarter grades using the printed gradebook; parents are encouraged to update the printed gradebook to reflect any changes they deem necessary (emergencies situations, illnesses, planned absences, special academic targets, or assignments, late work, make-up meetings, revisions, or extra credit students submitted to their parents).  For clarity: Parents are encouraged to update the official, printed gradebook that the advisor issues at the end of the semester to confirm the grades that should be printed on the student's transcript.

Viewing Grades:  Student grades may be viewed at any time throughout the semester by signing in to the STAA Student Zone with the student's username and password, clicking on the drop-down arrow next to the student's name in the top right corner of the site, selecting "My Grades" from the drop-down menu, and clicking on the name of the course you wish to view.  The reviews and grades for each assignment will display.  Click on the name of an individual assignment to view the assignment instructions and the "Feedback files" uploaded by the high school advisor.  The "Feedback files" are typically annotated copies of the student's assignment and/or an assignment rating rubric.

Emergency Extensions: Parents may request assignment due date extensions when unexpected emergencies interrupt their student's ability to submit the assignment while the submission window is open.  Emergency Extensions are only available for starred assignments.  All Emergency Extensions must be requested by a parent through the Live Classes messaging system on the STAA Student Zone. 
       Extensions cannot be authorized for assignments due the final day of the semester (Week 16, Day 5).  Week 16 assignments that cannot be submitted by the due date or the three-day late-submission window should be completed by the student, graded by the parent, and manually entered on the printed gradebook.





"What should I do if I fall behind in my written work?"

In the preparatory weeks, students are encouraged to look over the course gradebook in the STAA Study Guide and highlight the assignments that are marked with asterisks.  These assignments are the essential assignments to complete to earn credit for the course.  These assignments are typically worth two, three, or four times the number of points of the other assignments.  It is important to put best effort into these essential assignments and complete them on time.  Students that are running behind on other assignments may find that they just may need to drop a minor assignment or two in order to catch up and do well on an upcoming essential assignment.  All of the assignments and their assignment points values are listed in the course gradebook in the STAA Study Guide so students can always look ahead at what is coming up in the course, crunch the numbers, and make strategic decisions about how to spend their time in their courses.

Your advisor will be able to offer specific tips and directions during the semester during the live class meetings and in response to any questions posed on the course's Q & A Forum to apply these general comments about assignment strategy to the particular circumstances in the course.

"Can I get an extension for an essential assignment?  I have a [recital/performance/swim meet/competition/trip] planned for the weekend the assignment is due." 

Extensions are not available for essential assignments beyond the "late-submission window" detailed above.  If you have a scheduled conflict, we will suggest that you complete the assignment early or skip a minor assignment in order to work on the essential assignment early.  At the very least, turn in a hurried and quick attempt at the assignment during the "late-submission window" week in order to earn SOME assignment points instead of NO assignment points (this is akin to "strategic and educated guessing" on standardized tests when you encounter questions you are not confident about but still want to make an attempt in order to possibly earn some points).  If the submission window is missed entirely, turn the very late assignment in to your teaching-parent for grading and be sure to send a copy of the graded assignment in with your semester reporting packet so you earn credit for completing the course.  


Quarter Grades

"Will my advisor grade my course as well as my discussions and assignments?" 

The high school advisor will maintain a gradebook and prepare quarter grades for the teaching-parents to review for students enrolled in a Live Class with Graded Discussions and Graded Assignments

The live classes offered by St. Thomas Aquinas Academy are designed to assist students and families in their homeschooling, not supersede parental authority, so the ultimate grade that teaching-parents report for transcripts is to be determined by the teaching-parents.  Teaching-parents may take the recommended quarter grades as the final grades for the transcripts or they may adjust the grades based on extra credit assignments and special changes they made in their home for their child during the course of the semester.  For instance, if a student is enrolled for assignment grading and the teaching-parents ask their child to only focus on submitting the essential assignments to the advisor for grading, with the teaching-parents taking charge of grading all the minor assignments (perhaps even changing the quantity or format of the minor assignments), then the teaching-parents will want to take the grades from the advisor, and fill in the grades that the computer and advisor show as "not submitted/zero" with their own assignment grades in order to calculate the final quarter grade.

"Do we have to turn in every assignment?"

Students that are determined to earn an "A" for the quarter from their high school advisor will want to turn in every assignment and make sure to complete everything listed in the course's gradebook with strong scores.  Students that want to use the live classes as a way to help organize their study of the semester's material, but need more flexibility because of illness, special circumstances, or family plans, are encouraged to focus their efforts on studying the course material, participating in the quizzing and discussions, and turning in at least the essential assignments.  When the latter approach is taken, students will need to look to their teaching-parents for a final quarter grade.  Students that have a very busy personal schedule, or expect frequent interruptions to the semester, or have other unique circumstances that will prevent them from submitting assignments on time during the semester, are likely to find the Live Class with Graded Discussions option the best fit for the semester.  In the Live Class with Graded Discussions option, students will participate in the class discussions and in the weekly quizzes, but written assignments will be graded by the teaching-parents and the quarter grades will be issued by the teaching-parents.

"Can I turn in a different kind of assignment instead of the one described in the STAA Study Guide?" 

The assignments submitted to the high school advisor for grading will be graded based on the assignment directions.  Assignments that have a format or prompt that is different from the assignment directions in the STAA Study Guide and on the STAA Student Zone should be submitted to your teaching-parents for review and grading.  Your teaching-parents will then need to manually record the assignment score in the printed gradebook so the score can be included in the end-of-quarter grade they issue to you.


  • STAA Study Guides

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  • Live Online Classes

    Classical, liberal arts courses for Catholic homeschoolers. Learn more and view the schedules for the Fall and Spring semesters.

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