Literacy Series – What is a writing rubric and how it is helpful?

--- Published on November 07th 2022 ---
Smiling Young Lady

With NUSD’s focus on informational writing, it’s important for our families to understand a tool that is used to help score writing and help students know how to improve their writing.  This tool is called a writing rubric. A rubric is, very simply, a scoring guide based on grade-level writing standards that provides a guide for stronger writing practice. In a collaborative effort to determine student writing levels (regardless of grade level or content area, the group agreed on five key scoring elements of writing in all NUSD informational writing rubrics there are 5 elements that a student’s writing is scored on. Breaking the writing into 5 elements helps to identify specific areas of strength and areas for growth. These 5 scoring elements are as follows:

The topic or Main Idea (K-5) /Thesis Statement (6-12)
Use of sources (K-5) and Selection and Citation of Evidence (6-12)
Standard English Conventions

Why are writing rubrics important to the NUSD literacy plan? Rubrics help students, families, and teachers identify and expect what quality writing looks like in the classroom. But how do rubrics benefit our students? Students can identify and understand key scoring elements in their work so they know what good writing needs to include and how to improve their own writing. When students are given the opportunity to understand the scoring process, their success is based on clear expectations and requirements toward desired outcomes rather than general statements such as, “unclear opening” or “needs more detail”.

NUSD writing rubrics also benefit parents by creating opportunities to speak with their students about the writing assessments. When parents know what is expected, they feel more confident and comfortable helping students or giving feedback. Additionally, students, parents, and teachers using the writing rubrics together can foster positive relationships where everyone is comfortable using results from the rubric to discuss areas of strength and improvement in a collaborative environment. Teachers can then use the rubrics to communicate with students and parents’ main ideas regarding meeting or exceeding an expectation, what further learning needs to take place, or any appropriate next steps based on equity and fairness.

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