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










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 ABCD
  • Presents ideas in an original manner
  • Presents ideas in a consistent manner
  • Ideas are too general
  • Ideas are vague or unclear
  • Strong and organized beg/mid/end
  • Organized beg/mid/end
  • Some organization; attempt at a beg/mid/end
  • No organization; lack beg/mid/end
  • 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
  • Few (if any) errors
  • Few errors
  • Several errors
  • Numerous errors