Writing—whether a persuasive essay, lab report, constructed response or research paper—is a consistent component of performance tasks that are most utilized by teachers to measure their students’ knowledge, understanding of concepts, and skills. The reason why are many, but probably the most significant is that the very act of writing, which requires students to create feeling of information and ideas and also to express that understanding coherently, is itself a skill that is critical.
And yet, despite its importance, there was little consensus among educators at any grade level on which constitutes effective writing, how it ought to be measured, as well as how it must be taught.
One step toward solving this conundrum is the consistent use of a general analytic writing rubric. An analytic writing rubric, like all rubrics, contains sets of criteria aligned to progressive levels of performance. However, unlike a holistic writing rubric , which evaluates all criteria simultaneously to reach at just one score, an analytic writing rubric separates the criteria into discrete elements, such as for instance controlling ideas, organization, development, diction and conventions. Among the great things about 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, regardless of subject area.
For such a writing rubric to be most effective, however, the teachers utilising the rubric must agree on the characteristics of effective writing, and align their scoring so that they are all applying the rubric’s criteria and score consistently. This result is best achieved by teachers calibrating their scoring . The calibration process asks teachers to score a series of normed essays which were scored ahead of time by expert educators with the rubric that is same. When teachers successfully align their scoring with one of these normed essays, also, they are aligned with one another.
Through this calibration process, teachers arrive at clear, consistent expectations concerning the characteristics of effective writing—and, in doing so, develop a vocabulary that is common which to go over student work with one another and their students. As Libby Baker, et al., explain into the article, “ Reading, Writing and Rubrics ,” calibrating and scoring student work is a meaningful type of professional learning: “As teachers deepen their knowledge of the characteristics of good writing … and how students’ mastery evolves over time… they became more insightful as diagnosticians and instructional decision makers.”
The consistent utilization of a general analytic rubric across a group, department or school could be an essential component in blended and personalized learning.
When you look at the classroom, teachers may use this rubric to:
- clarify expectations for students and then make the grading process transparent;
- gather diagnostic information to plan instruction and design interventions for individual students;
- give students personalized formative feedback on each element of their writing;
- help students identify specific, reachable goals for the writing they truly are to perform; and,
- provide students with a framework through which they could read, analyze and ultimately emulate the types of effective writing.
Individually, students can use the rubric to:
- practice the language of the discipline by using the rubric’s terms, descriptors and criteria when discussing their particular writing;
- observe how writing that is good a process, not only a task to perform;
- think about and evaluate the quality of one’s own writing;
- set personal goals for improvement; and,
- give meaningful feedback on the writing of others.
There is a period when working with rubrics and calibrating teacher scoring required significant amounts custom writings of time, energy and paperwork—and the resulting data were tough to manage and analyze. Today, however, online applications streamline calibration, writing instruction, the usage rubrics to score student work, and also the collection of data that will measure student growth with time.
At AcademicMerit , for example, we offer an internet calibration tool called FineTune through which individual teachers can calibrate their scoring using our Common Core-aligned general analytic writing rubric. By using this application, teachers score real, anonymized student essays that were previously scored and normed by expert educators. When a teacher’s scoring is proven to be in line with that of the experts, s/he is considered calibrated not with just the experts, but also with some of the other teachers who possess been through this calibration process.
When teams of calibrated teachers utilize this general rubric that is analytic their own students, they—and their students—share a typical comprehension of the sun and rain of great writing to make certain that all students take place to your same expectations, and also the resulting data retains validity from teacher to teacher and from classroom to classroom.
In a blended-learning environment, the normal expectations communicated by a broad analytic writing rubric—used along with best practices in professional learning and instruction—can help students take over of the writing so that they can clearly and consistently communicate their ideas.
About Sue Jacob
Sue Jacob is the Academic Director for AcademicMerit. As former school that is high teacher in Minneapolis, Sue has held many different teacher leadership roles, including mentor, teacher-leader for English curriculum and instruction, and composer of accelerated curriculum for advanced learners in grades 6-12. Sue received her National Board certification in 2005. It had been 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.