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Assessing Writing: Using a Rubric


Below you will find a rubric used at Eastern Kentucky University for their University Writing Exam. Following the rubric is a prompt once used by the university, and three essays which were written in response to the prompt. It may be helpful to give students the rubric and the three essays ---without scores--- and have them grade the essays. Then use a class period to go over the essays, indicating why they received the score they did. You may wish to assign the prompt as an in-class writing before giving out the rubric and sample essays. This will enable the students to compare their own writing with writing of a similar nature.


The Rubric

The 7 - 6 paper responds to the prompt clearly and appropriately with sophisticated ideas; is well-organized, with effective transitions between ideas; develops key ideas coherently and effectively with details that have substance, specificity, or illustrative quality; has varied sentence structure and language that is vivid, precise, and fluent; demonstrates mastery of sentence structures, grammar, and other mechanics. There may be an occasional lapse from Standard English.

The 5 paper responds to the prompt with substantial ideas; is clearly organized; supports each idea with appropriate details. Its sentence structure, language choices, and use of Standard English may be flawed but are generally more than adequate.

The 4 paper covers the prompt with adequate organization, provides meaningful support for each idea, though perhaps some ideas are supported more effectively than others; has little variety in sentence structures although such structures may be adequate. Some errors in use of Standard English may occur.

The 3 paper does not respond adequately to the prompt either because it does not fully address the prompt, lacks coherent organization, lacks appropriate meaningful supportive detail, simply lists details without integrating them into the line of reasoning, or uses sentence structure and word choice that are inappropriately simple and repetitive. Spelling, punctuation, grammar, or syntax often fails to comform to Standard English.

The 2 paper is deficient because it shows little or no understanding of the prompt and/or the subject matter. shows little or no organization, or demonstrates little or no development of ideas. Inadequate sentence structure, word choices, or usage interferes with communication.

The 1 paper fails to communicate coherently either because it does not respond to the prompt, does not demonstrate organization or development of ideas. Fundamentally deficient sentence structures, word choices, and Standard English seriously interfere with communication. It is too brief to be an adequate sample of writing skills.



We live in a throw-away society, and the things we throw away may degrade and pollute our environment. However, these products also provide benefits. In a well-organized essay, citing specific examples, discuss the benefits and liabilities of throw-away products and suggest a public or personal policy to deal with them.


The Essays

Essay #1: Score: 2- Deficient

Pollution and our environment can be a hard subject to deal with, to try to understand the benefits of pollution. There are several ways that pollution can degrade our environment it can harm our water, soil, and air. However there is some benefits which pollution has like keeping some of our products from spoiling creating landfills and we can recycle some of the material. Pollution has. a good side and a bad side to it, it depends on how you look at the problem.

First, pollution does degrade our environment by seeying it lay around in a big pile. When we try to burn pollution we create problems with our air and water. Water pollution is one of the biggest problems we have today in our nation.

Then, when pollution gets into our water it will not only hurt other things but, it can also hurt people. This is when we need to develope other ideas in dealing with pollution. We can develope new ways of dealing with the problem.

Next, we can use some of the ways we all ready, have in solving the problem of pollution. Some of the pollution we have a vital use for like to keep food from spoiling, or to use packing of materials. We have landfills where we can put the pollution if we do it correctly. There is still a better way of dealing with pollution and that is recycleng it. This provides jobs for people who need jobs and, this also can take care of a lot of the problem.

On the contrary, there is a problem with pollution in the world. We have more pollution than landfills but, we can still work on new ideals on how to get the problem solved. These new ideals to deal with pollution will have to be made in the future.


Essay #2: Score: 4 = Adequate

Americans lived in a throw-away society today.We use things once and then discard them in the trash.This has a great effect on us in many ways, some good and some bad. Throw-away products have created many benefits for society; yet, it has also created many problems.

One benefit which has been recieved from throw-away products is, in a sense, time itself. Time is no longer necessary for cleaning, because things are simply discarded when dirty. This means more time is available for other things. Throw-away products also lessen the class divisions of society. Many throw-away products are cheaper to buy because they aren't made to last. Thus, the poor can afford to purchase these items. Sanitation is another benefit. Since items are used only once, they are much more cleaner than those used over and over. The most important benefit of throw-away products is that they decrease unemployment. Since people are constantly throwing away the things they use, they always need more. Thus, the demand for throw-away products is high. Many people are needed to meet this need; therefore, many jobs are created. By creating jobs, throw-asway products boost our economy.

There are many problems however, created by throw-away products. The major problem being overuse of resources. Throw-away products cause a great usage of natural resources. This over-usage could deplete our supply. Another problem is the question of `where to put everything?' What can we do with all the waste? Will our Earth just become a junk-pile?

One way to deal with these problems is recycling. If products are recycled then the drain on natural resources is somewhat lessened. Also, the question of `where to put everything?' is answered. Things are used over again, so there is no great pile of waste. Recycling is the solution to the problems caused by throw-away products.


Essay #3: Score: 6 = Superior

We live in a fast paced society. Everyone you see is in a hurry. In our haste, we find that we are using instant and disposable everything. Instant breakfast, disposable diapers, [I] instant potatoes, disposable razors. Why do we use these products? Simply because they are quick and easy. Seldom do we take time to wonder at the life a product once it leaves and our garbage can at home.

What exactly does disposable mean? In common language, one might say that it means that a product is made in such a manner that after use it can be discarded easily without a considerable loss cost.

What such items exist in our society? We now have accomplished an enormous feat in that there are seemingly few things that aren't disposable anymore. Disposable diapers, razors, cans, even contasct lenses, are now available in a disposable form. In many ways

this is a large success. For anyone who is like myself, there are many advantages to these products.Some save you time, such as the new contact lenses. Where I used to spend 15-20 minutes per day cleaning and putting them in, I now spend less than 5 minutes one time per week putting them in. When the week is up, I simply discard the old pair and put in a fresh pair. Time to me is my most valued possession. Energy and effort are also a factor involved. Using diapers as an example, all mothers in years of the past were forced to use cloth diapers. This involved a constant cycle of change the baby, wash out the daiper. Most mothers could probably say that this was one of their less lesser joys of raising a child. The energy involved in this process is worth a great deal to these mothers. Storage is a third issue involved in the advantages. The space that is used to keep many items that must be recycled is far greatr than that of disposable items.

On the other hand however, there are liabilities that come with thes items as well. One of these an a the fact that many of these items cost us more both in the short and long run. For example I had to decide with my contact lenses whether or not it was w My old contact lenses cost me about $100 per year. The disposable ones run $ 350 per year. I had to decide whether or not my time was worth that extra $ 250. The same goes with the diapers.You end up paying much more in the long run by using disposable than if you used cloth ones. This is true of many such disposable items.

An issue that is more important still in the liability area is a very controversial argument. It has been proven that many of these disposable products cause a danger to our environment. Thay have taken much consideration in making the product disposable but very little consideration in making a product that will rapidly deteriorate without harming the environment once it leaves the home. Diapers for example are now creas creating quite a stir among the conservation supporters. We go through so many yearly and the dumps are stacked ever so high with them. But these items do not deteriorate well. So years on end they sit, piling skyward. Where do we put them when all our dumps are full. Also, many items are being said to harm the land as they do deteriorate. I feel that the conservationists who protest these products are in many ways right in doing so.

As I feel that the conservationists who protest these products are right, in ways, in doing so. Too often we are so busy worrying about ourselves that we don't take any time to think about what shape we are leaving this Earth in for our children and grandchildren. We get so caught up in this hurried pace around us that we are ignorant of what is going on around us. As much as I enjoy the convenience of many of these itmes, I feel that I should make more of an effort to promote the well-being of our planet. I feel also that it should be a group effort, with all adopting the policy to "live and let live."