Getting on the Same Page: The Value of Analytic Writing Rubrics

Writing—whether a persuasive essay, lab report, constructed response or research paper—is a consistent part of most performance tasks used by teachers to measure their students’ knowledge, understanding of concepts, and skills. The reasons are many, but possibly the most significant is that the very act of writing, which requires students to create feeling of information and ideas and to express that understanding coherently, is itself a skill that is critical.

And yet, despite its importance, there clearly was consensus that is little educators at any grade level about what constitutes effective writing, how it ought to be measured, as well as how it should be taught.

One step toward solving this conundrum may be the consistent use of a general writing rubric that is analytic. An writing that is analytic, like all rubrics, contains sets of criteria aligned to progressive levels of performance. However, unlike a writing that is holistic , which evaluates all criteria simultaneously to arrive at just one score, an analytic writing rubric separates the criteria into discrete elements, such as for example controlling ideas, organization, development, diction and conventions. One of several benefits of the analytic rubric is that, in its most general form, it can be used with a variety of writing tasks—helping students learn the qualities of effective writing, no matter subject area.

For such a writing rubric to be most reliable, however, the teachers with the rubric must agree with the characteristics of effective writing, and align their scoring so that they are all using the rubric’s criteria and score consistently. This outcome is best attained by teachers calibrating their scoring . The calibration process asks teachers to score a few normed essays that have been scored in advance by expert educators using the rubric that is same. When teachers successfully align their scoring with these normed essays, they’re also aligned with each other.

Through this calibration process, teachers arrive at clear, consistent expectations in connection with characteristics of effective writing—and, in doing so, develop a common vocabulary with which to talk about student work with each other and their students. As Libby Baker, et al., explain into the article, “ Reading, Writing and Rubrics ,” calibrating and scoring student work is a meaningful form of professional learning: “As teachers deepen their comprehension of the characteristics of good writing … and exactly how students’ mastery evolves with time… they became more insightful as diagnosticians and instructional decision makers.”

The consistent usage of an over-all analytic rubric across a team, department or school can be a significant component in blended and learning that is personalized.

In the classroom, teachers can use this rubric to:

  • clarify expectations for students and make the grading process transparent;
  • Gather information that is diagnostic plan instruction and design interventions for individual students;
  • give students personalized feedback that is formative each element of their writing;
  • help students identify specific, reachable goals for the writing they have been to perform; and,
  • provide students with a framework by which they could read, analyze and ultimately emulate the types of effective writing.

Individually, students can use the rubric to:

  • practice the language of this discipline paper writer by using the rubric’s terms, descriptors and criteria when discussing their particular writing;
  • observe how writing that is good a process, not simply a task to accomplish;
  • reflect on and measure the quality of one’s own writing;
  • set personal goals for improvement; and,
  • give meaningful feedback on the writing of others.

There was a period when using rubrics and calibrating teacher scoring required significant amounts of time, energy and paperwork—and the resulting data were tough to manage and analyze. Today, however, online applications streamline calibration, writing instruction, the use of rubrics to score student work, and the collection of data that will measure student growth with time.

At AcademicMerit , for example, you can expect an on-line calibration tool called FineTune by which individual teachers can calibrate their scoring using our Common Core-aligned general analytic writing rubric. Using this application, teachers score real, anonymized student essays which were previously scored and normed by expert educators. When a teacher’s scoring is proven to be in keeping with that of the experts, s/he is considered calibrated not in just the experts, but additionally with any of the other teachers that have been through this calibration process.

When teams of calibrated teachers utilize this general rubric that is analytic their very own students, they—and their students—share a standard comprehension of sun and rain of good writing to ensure all students take place to your same expectations, and the resulting data retains validity from teacher to teacher and from classroom to classroom.

In a blended-learning environment, the most popular expectations communicated by a broad analytic writing rubric—used in conjunction with best practices in professional learning and instruction—can help students assume control of these writing to enable them to clearly and consistently communicate their ideas.

About Sue Jacob

Sue Jacob could be the Academic Director for AcademicMerit. As former senior school English teacher in Minneapolis, Sue has held many different teacher leadership roles, including mentor, teacher-leader for English curriculum and instruction, and writer of accelerated curriculum for advanced learners in grades 6-12. Sue received her National Board certification in 2005. It was through the National Board portfolio process that Sue realized the role that is powerful plays in strengthening students’ critical thinking, a belief that is at the heart of AcademicMerit’s academic and professional learning products.