by Rudd Crawford
Each problem gets from 0 to 4 points for mathematics, and either 0 or 1 for grammar and English usage. I put the score, along with my often extensive comments, by each problem in the notebook. Then, to tabulate a grade, I use Steve Meiring's brilliant point system. Stella problems are hard enough that a student getting half of them has done very well. But that is only 50%, which would be a failing grade in a regular percentage system. Steve's system gives, say, 28 points (out of 100) for the first correct solution out of eight attempts, no matter which problem it is, 20 for the second, 12 for the third, and so on, in decreasing order until the last one gets only 2 points. Thus, getting three problems right is 60 points already, and when you are struggling with that last toughie you are losing only 2 points if you cannot do it.
Besides the solutions of the problems themselves, I give a few points for pasting all of the problems into the notebook, whether a solution has been attempted or not, and for logging the amount of time spent on the whole set, for listing collaborators, if any, and for writing a "Dear Stella" note commenting on the problems in general. ("Dear Stella, when are you going to die?")
As mentioned above, I also award points for good grammar and spelling. This score is kept separate from the mathematics score. All in all, there are 100 points available for mathematics and 8 or so for English.
At the end of the marking period, I usually give the total Stella grade about the same weight as one test, depending on the type of class it is. If the class is one of limited ability, I include the Stella grade only if it helps the overall grade for the marking period.