Key Points for Grading Writing

Many struggle with grading writing because they feel writing is subjective and do not want to risk offending or stifling a student’s creativity. Students however, need well-thought-out supervision to learn how to communicate clearly and effectively. Writing seems so personal and abstract, so how in the world do you grade writing fairly?  

When students receive immediate or as-close-to-immediate-as-possible feedback, their work improves at a significantly faster rate.

  1. Grading writing is not looking for eloquent phrases or taking off points if you think your student could have worded a sentence better.

    Sometimes a sentence may be written correctly, but could have been stated better. You may want to help your student word a sentence better, but do not penalize his or her grade. Other times you need to ignore a correct but poorly worded sentence and focus on other writing components.
  2. While students need freedom to develop their own writing style, at the same time they require structured guidance.

    When grading writing, look for clear cut mistakes: run-on, incomplete and awkward sentences, spelling and capitalization errors, grammar errors such as verb tenses used incorrectly, staying on topic, supporting the topic, and more. These skills are covered in lessons and on checklists.
  3. When grading, start at the beginning of the checklist looking for 1 item at a time.

    For example, when grading sentences, first look for a capital letter to begin every sentence and then check to see if every sentence has a period. When grading paragraphs, first check if the paragraph is indented, and then if it is in paragraph form or a box shape. For each lesson, work through the current checklists for that lesson as you grade.
  4. Soon you will know the checklists like the back of your hand.

    Students learn to include skills automatically as you learn to check for them. As you progress through lessons you will learn to check for errors in skills that were covered in previous lessons.
  5. Praise them for what they do right, while showing them how to correct errors.

    Do not just mark the error, but show your student how to correct the error. If you are not sure how an error could be corrected, talk with your child and see what he or she was really trying to say.
  6. Grading is part of every lesson.

    The lesson is complete when the grading is complete. When students receive immediate or as-close-to-immediate-as-possible feedback, their work improves at a significantly faster rate. Even when a student is working independently, he or she still needs immediate teacher feedback. Teachers should remain in the loop and continue to grade/correct student work.
  7. Base students’ grades on the checklists, and the specific instructions on the student assignments and student worksheets.

    Students know what is expected because their worksheets, assignments and checklists make it as black and white as it can be.

Using The Write Foundation, grading writing is not overwhelming because you learn as you teach, and you are provided all the information and tools that you need to grade writing. When you grade your students’ writing, not only does their writing steadily improve, but your writing also improves as you learn or strengthen necessary writing skills that you are teaching your students. With The Write Foundation system and checklists, grading your student’s writing is straightforward and painless.