Sample Essay Rubric for Elementary Teachers

Informal essay rubric
Janelle Cox

An essay rubric is a way teachers assess students' essay writing by using specific criteria to grade assignments. Essay rubrics save teachers time because all of the criteria are listed and organized into one convenient paper. If used effectively, rubrics can help improve students' writing.

How to Use an Essay Rubric

  • The best way to use an essay rubric is to give the rubric to the students before they begin their writing assignment. Review each criterion with the students and give them specific examples of what you want so they will know what is expected of them.
  • Next, assign students to write the essay, reminding them of the criteria and your expectations for the assignment.
  • Once students complete the essay have them first score their own essay using the rubric, and then switch with a partner. (This peer-editing process is a quick and reliable way to see how well the student did on their assignment. It's also good practice to learn criticism and become a more efficient writer.)
  • Once peer-editing is complete, have students hand in their essay's. Now it is your turn to evaluate the assignment according to the criteria on the rubric. Make sure to offer students examples if they did not meet the criteria listed.

Informal Essay Rubric

Features

4

Expert

3

Accomplished

2

Capable

1

Beginner

Quality of Writing

Piece was written in an extraordinary style and voice

Very informative and well-organized

Piece was written in an interesting style and voice

Somewhat informative and organized

Piece had little style or voice

Gives some new information but poorly organized

Piece had no style or voice

Gives no new information and very poorly organized

Grammar, Usage & Mechanics

Virtually no spelling, punctuation or grammatical errors

Few spelling and punctuation errors, minor grammatical errors

A number of spelling, punctuation or grammatical errors

So many spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors that it interferes with the meaning

Formal Essay Rubric

Areas of Assessment A B C D
Ideas

Presents ideas in an original manner

Presents ideas in a consistent manner

Ideas are too general

Ideas are vague or unclear

Organization

Strong and organized beg/mid/end

Organized beg/mid/end

Some organization; attempt at a beg/mid/end

No organization; lack beg/mid/end

Understanding

Writing shows strong understanding

Writing shows a clear understanding

Writing shows adequate understanding

Writing shows little understanding

Word Choice

Sophisticated use of nouns and verbs make the essay very informative

Nouns and verbs make essay informative

Needs more nouns and verbs

Little or no use of nouns and verbs

Sentence Structure

Sentence structure enhances meaning; flows throughout the piece

Sentence structure is evident; sentences mostly flow

Sentence structure is limited; sentences need to flow

No sense of sentence structure or flow

Mechanics

Few (if any) errors

Few errors

Several errors

Numerous errors