Grading rubrics can be of great benefit to both you and your students. For you, a rubric saves time and decreases subjectivity. Specific criteria are explicitly stated, facilitating the grading process and increasing your objectivity. For students, the use of grading rubrics helps them to meet or exceed expectations, to view the grading process as being fair, and to set goals for future learning.
In order to help your students meet or exceed expectations of the assignment, be sure to discuss the rubric with your students when you assign an essay. It is helpful to show them examples of written pieces that meet and do not meet the expectations. As an added benefit, because the criteria are explicitly stated, the use of the rubric decreases the likelihood that students will argue about the grade they receive. The explicitness of the expectations helps students know exactly why they lost points on the assignment and aids them in setting goals for future improvement.
- Routinely have students score peers essays using the rubric as the assessment tool. This increases their level of awareness of the traits that distinguish successful essays from those that fail to meet the criteria. Have peer editors use the Reviewers Comments section to add any praise, constructive criticism, or questions.
- Alter some expectations or add additional traits on the rubric as needed. Students needs may necessitate making more rigorous criteria for advanced learners or less stringent guidelines for younger or special needs students. Furthermore, the content area for which the essay is written may require some alterations to the rubric. In social studies, for example, an essay about geographical landforms and their effect on the culture of a region might necessitate additional criteria about the use of specific terminology.
- After you and your students have used the rubric, have them work in groups to make suggested alterations to the rubric to more precisely match their needs or the parameters of a particular writing assignment.
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Rubric for Evaluation of the Paragraph
A rubric is a grading tool that describes the criteria, or "what counts," for the assignment. It also describes each of the criteria according to gradations of quality, with descriptions of strong, middling, and problematic student work. The criteria are listed in the column on the left. The numbers in the top row indicate quality, with 3 being the best. The number 0 is something everyone wants to avoid. Students may use the rubric as a check list to determine if the writing meets the criteria of the assignment.
Interesting, original topic sentence, reflecting thought and insight; focused on one interesting main idea.
Clearly stated topic sentence presents one main idea.
Acceptable topic sentence presents one idea.
Missing, invalid, or inappropriate topic sentence; main idea is missing.
Interesting, concrete and descriptive examples and details with explanations that relate to the topic.
Examples and details relate to the topic and some explanation is included.
Sufficient number of examples and details that relate to the topic.
Insufficient, vague, or undeveloped examples.
Organization and Transitions
Thoughtful, logical progression of supporting examples; Mature transitions between ideas.
Details are arranged in a logical progression; appropriate transitions.
Acceptable arrangement of examples; transitions may be weak.
No discernible pattern of organization; Unrelated details; no transitions.
Appropriate tone, distinctive voice; pleasing variety in sentence structure; Vivid diction, precise word choices.
Appropriate tone; Clear sentences with varied structures; Effective diction.
Acceptable tone; some variety in sentence structures; Adequate diction and word choices.
Inconsistent or Inappropriate tone; Awkward, unclear, or incomplete sentences; Bland diction, poor word choice.
Consistent standard English usage, spelling, and punctuation. No errors.
Some errors, but none major, in usage, spelling, or punctuation. (1-2)
A few errors in usage, spelling, or punctuation (3-4)
Distracting errors in usage, spelling, or punctuation
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