“Like it? I love it,” he grinned.
“Really? What grade would you give it an A or a C?”
“Oh, this definitely an A paper”
“Are you sure?”
“Of course, I know an A paper when I see it.”
“Great, would you tell Mom she should give me an A?”
This conversation or a variation of this one has occurred in my home on more than one occasion or another. My kids have reached out to coop teachers, church members and even a grandparent to try to get me to change a grade. As a parent, it is challenging to grade your child’s papers, because judging writing is so subjective. In math or science, and history as well, there is a right answer—in fact, there is generally only one right answer. This is not the case with writing.
There are no absolutes in grading because there are so many elements of writing. Do we count the spelling errors and ignore content? On the other hand, how can we ignore grammatical mistakes that mar our understanding of content? We wrestle with how to properly assess our children’s writing. Clearly, a diagnostic tool is needed to measure writing skills objectively.
Objectivity can be obtained through rubrics. A rubric is a measurement of grading. Different rubrics are needed for different assignments because different skill sets are being assessed. For instance, when grading a journal assignment, you might check for sentence fluency and creative or critical thinking, depending on the type of journal, but you would not grade grammar or mechanics. Conversely, when grading a research paper, grammar and organization are key elements and must be graded. At the same time, it is not enough to grade just on one specific element. We also need to be able to measure improvement. Students want to improve their writing and a writing rubric helps our kids improve their writing.
A writing rubric can be used on a number of writing assignments, I actually grant my homeschool students points for remembering to print their names on their papers. You would be surprised how many homeschool students forget to put their names on their papers.A rubric will help you objectify your grading process and it will help students improve their writing immensely.
Cheryl Carter is the author of Write to Achieve, Write to Think and How to Grade Your Student’s Writing. She is a veteran homeschool mom of five, a college professor, author and a homeschool leader. Visit www.homeschoolcollegeprep.org and www.writeforcollege.org