85. Writing – How should I grade writing for English Language Learners? Should I give a grade in relation to first draft and judge by improvement only? How do you give a score?

Usually, written assignments are graded on the basis of a rubric, that is, a series of statements that clearly specify the expectations to be found in the writing sample.

Here is a sample assignment and the rubric to grade this assignment.

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Notice that the rubric indicated above is extremely limiting. For example, it gives no credit for the development of a well-organized summary of the story so that the theme may be better understood. Another extremely grave fault with this rubric is that it does NOT include the vocabulary expected to be included in the written assignment. In other words, a very simply written essay that develops a 7th grade theme using 3rd grade vocabulary would have been rated "advanced" and received a score of "4." The rubric does not specify language patterns to be included in the essay, nor idiomatic expressions, nor similes or metaphors, nothing that in any way allows students to exhibit creative talents.

Thus, in determining the grade of a writing assignment, for English Language Learners and for ALL learners, the rubric must include as many key indicators as possible, and these indicators must be known to the students before hand. Thus, the teacher must clearly specify what the expectations for the essay are:

What is to be included? Paragraph by paragraph.
WHAT VOCABULARY, mastered at the students’ level, MUST BE INCLUDED?
WHAT SENTENCE PATTERNS, what level of complexity of sentence patterns should be used in expressing one’s thoughts?
What idioms, or sayings or expressions should be included?
How should the student embellish h(is/er) own thoughts?

With ALL of this information posted or available to students, to ALL students, a grade could be assigned to the second or third draft of an essay, after the student consults with one or two other students on how to improve h(is/er) writing.


For more in-depth information, classroom demonstrations, and "coaching" of new and/or experienced teachers, Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK offers:

1. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
2. Cross Cultural Diversity - Multicultural Strategies
3. Effective Instruction for English Learners (L.E.P. students) Parts 1, 2, 3, 4
4. Promoting Academic Success in Language Minority Students
5. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
6. Oral Language / Literacy Skills / Higher Order Thinking Skills
7. 50/50 Dual Language Programs: design, planning and implementation
8. The Structure of English / The Structure of Spanish
9. Transition: Introduction to English Reading

Web Site Programs for Teachers: Numbers 1, 5, 7, 8, and 9.
Web Site Programs for
Paraprofessionals: Number 3.
Web Site Programs for
New Teachers:
Enhanced Cultural Sensitivity - The Challenge of Students Diversity
Identifying / Responding to Students' Language Needs
Phonemic Awareness: Teaching English phonics to L.E.P. students
Relationship Between Reading, Writing and Spelling
Improving Reading Performance -- Building Oral Language Skills)

Write and e-mail any additional questions you may have, and Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will establish with you, your school or district a Technical Assistance Service Contract. Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will answer all your questions promptly and to your satisfaction.


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