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Benchmark Writing Rubric

Benchmark Writing Rubric (Middle School: Grades 6, 7 and 8)







Ideas and Development

Clear and focused throughout. [WA 2.1-2.5]

Strong main idea, thesis, or story line. [WA 2.1-2.5]

Evidence is authentic, convincing, based on research, experience, or the text. [WA 2.1-2.5]
(For summary - uses writers own words)

Main ideas expanded, well supported with details. [WA 2.1-2.5]

Precise, vivid, natural language throughout [WS 1.7]

Clear and focused more often than not.

Identifiable main topic, thesis, or story line.

Evidence is good, based on research, experience, or evidence from the text.
(For summary - uses writers own words

Main idea is expanded with quality detail that outweighs generalities.

Functional, clear language

Focused some of the time with some underdeveloped, rambling text.

Main idea, thesis, story line can still be inferred with careful reading.

Evidence is basic, based on research, experience, or evidence from the text.
(For summary - mostly uses writers own words)

Main idea expanded with generalities outweighing quality detail.

Vague or flat language outweighs clarity, sparkle.

Predominantly fuzzy, confusing, loosely focused.

A hint of a main idea, thesis or story line to come (just a glimmer).

Evidence consists mostly of factlets and tidbits.
(For summary - more copying than use of writers own words)

Mostly generalities with few, if any, details.

Extensive use of weak, general language

Notes and random thoughts hastily assembled.

Main idea, thesis, or story line as yet unknown, even to the writer.

Evidence is not evident.
(For summary - copies rather than using own words)

No details or generalities present.

Words seem chosen at random.

Organization and Focus

Order works well with topic, purpose, but is not overpowering. [WS 1.2, 1.3]

Strong lead, appropriate sense of closure that “feels right.” [WS 1.2]

Strong, thoughtful transitions. [WS 1.2]

Order is functional and the structure is supportive (i.e. reader never feels lost.)

Functional lead and conclusion.

Transitions present—usually helpful.

Some information needs re-ordering to follow thought or story line.

Lead and conclusion attempted—one or both need work.

Transitions unclear or too formulaic, predictable.

Much re-ordering needed (hard to follow.)

Lead and/or conclusion missing or formulaic.

Transitions often unclear or missing.

No recognizable structure. Disjointed list/collection of details, events.

No real lead or conclusion—it just begins, it just stops.

Transitions not attempted.


Exceptional variety in sentence structure and length. [WC 1.1]

Complexity of text lets writer showcase a command of a wide range of convention. Only the pickiest editors will spot errors. [WC 1.0]

Appropriate variety in sentence structure and length.

Contains minor errors that are easily overlooked.

Some variety in structure and length.

Noticeable, but minor errors that do not obscure meaning.

Little variety in structure and length. Sentences are mostly short, simple, gangly, tangly run-ons or chop-choppy.

Noticeable, distracting errors that may affect meaning.

Are these sentences?

Serious, frequent errors make reading all but impossible.

Papers that are off-topic cannot be scored higher than a 2.