School and Department Rubric
Writing Evaluation Guidelines


The English curriculum has grown out of particular perceptions and beliefs about our students. L-S students are intellectually and emotionally diverse. One of the primary tenets of our philosophy is that learning is a lifelong process. We assume that each of our students has unique gifts as well as needs; respecting this range of capabilities, we have a curriculum that challenges all students’ perceptions of their intellectual limits. We believe in educating students to be critical as well as creative thinkers, so that they will be able to communicate and engage actively in the world.

All courses should encourage active learning. There are many approaches to the study of literature; students should experience a number of them during their four years. Students should study literature to learn about their own cultural traditions, other cultural traditions, human attitudes, psychology, spiritual issues, values and ethics, aesthetics, and methods of criticism and analysis. Literature should also inspire thinking and writing through the education of the imagination. We believe students should have as much freedom as is possible and reasonable to develop skills and interests, to change their view of the world, and to experience a variety of opinion, expression and ability. Our commitment to an elective program is predicated upon these beliefs.


The broadest goals of the English Department include:

• Develop students’ familiarity with literature;

• Develop students’ ability to think critically;

• Foster formal, informal, and creative writing skills;

• Impart enthusiasm for and pleasure in reading and writing;

• Encourage cooperative learning;

• Encourage independent thinking, self-advocacy, development of individual interest, active questioning, and intrinsic motivation;

• Help students, particularly through the study of literature, accept and respect points of view different from their own;

• Help students to see teachers as guides and resources in the educational process;

• Help students to be responsible, active members of their communities, both in school and beyond;

• Teach students to use technology in a responsible, respectful and effective manner;

• Cultivate an awareness of a student’s own short and long-term academic and intellectual growth.


The core of the curriculum at Lincoln-Sudbury is the belief in the truth of learning as recursive process. There is no prescribed sequence of courses because we believe that the acquisition and growth of important reading, writing, thinking, speaking and listening skills happen throughout a student’s four years of high school. The courses we teach are designed to foster literacy, fluency, imagination and the synthesizing of information. The following are areas of competence each course develops.

Speaking and Listening

• The ability to engage in discussion as both speaker and listener: observing, interpreting, analyzing, responding, and summarizing.

• The ability to contribute to classroom discussions clearly and persuasively.

• The ability to recognize important points and to take effective notes.

• Reading and Literature The ability to read critically by asking relevant questions, by recognizing assumptions and implications, and by evaluating ideas.

• The ability to engage with texts and films analytically, recognizing the relationship between form, content and meaning.

•The development of interest in and curiosity about written work.

• The capacity to respond critically, actively and imaginatively to literature.


• The recognition of writing as a way of discovering, clarifying and synthesizing ideas.

• The recognition that writing is a multi-step, recursive process.

• The ability to write appropriately for different audiences and purposes.

• The use of the conventions of standard English.


• The awareness that English operates according to various grammatical systems:

• English has several different levels of usage.

• English has many dialects.

• English words have contextual, connotative, and denotative meanings.

• English, and language in general, is fluid and ever-evolving.


Below are the ways in which the department-wide expectations both inform and fulfill the School-wide Academic Expectations. One should consult the curriculum for each course for the course-specific expectations, which also seek to inform and fulfill the School-wide Expectations.

• During students’ four years of English, they are asked to demonstrate critical thinking and problem-solving skills through various activities, such as quizzes, class discussions, formal and informal writing, projects, presentations, collaborative work, tests, and in most courses, the semester exam.

• Students are also asked to express ideas in many modes. Writing, verbal (e.g., in class discussions), visual (e.g., drawings and posters), and kinesthetic (e.g., performing scenes from plays) are among the more common modes in the English Department. In terms of writing, students will have regular formal and informal writing assignments: a minimum of three formal compositions per semester, plus “writing to learn” exercises and activator questions to stimulate discussion.

• Lastly, students are participants in their own learning in their English courses. In class discussions, students are expected to contribute in meaningful ways. They actively engage in the writing process: brainstorming ideas, completing drafts, and initiating writing conferences. In many classes students are expected to keep notes on the reading, lectures and class discussions. Many courses ask students to reflect back on the class for the semester exam and to consider the themes and ideas discussed throughout the course. Also, students assess their growth as writers through their four-year writing folder, which is kept in the English Department. During each semester, students add written work to their folders. At the end of their senior year, students receive their folder back and then complete two short questionnaires that ask them to reflect on their growth as a writer and on their experience in English, in general.

School and Department Rubrics

For school-wide rubrics, refer to the Program of Studies (pp 2-3).

English Department Rubric

Writing Evaluation Guidelines

The following is a brief explanation of grades adapted from a system used in a writing class at Smith College. Standards may differ for individual assignments; that is, a particular assignment may set out to evaluate one or two specific skills or ideas and the standards here explained may not be relevant to the requirements of that assignment. There are however, the general standards applied to grading of papers.

  • A :  An almost mistake-free paper. The paper has been revised and edited carefully by the writer, thoroughly fulfills the assignment, and communicates in a real, personal voice. The paper shows a sense of style, is interesting to read, is clear and organized, and shows insight and originality.
  • B :   The paper fulfills the assignment. It occasionally misses chances to revise. There may be grammatical errors, but they are generally not fatally distracting. There may also be relatively minor problems with logic, clarity, or accuracy of expression, but the paper is basically a good one with development of a thesis.
  • C :  An attempt to fulfill the assignment but has more distracting errors and more problems with development of thesis. The writer has not taken time to develop a sense of style, and the paper probably exhibits a pattern of problems in grammar, logic, or clarity. It needs more serious revision.
  • D :   Many sentences in the paper contain errors of many kinds. The writer may have halfheartedly attempted to address the assignment, but the work is incomplete. Clarity and style are limited by severe and extensive mechanical problems. There are serious errors in clarity and/or development.
  • F :  The paper does not attempt to address the assignment or represents a fragment of work that displays no real effort or no commitment to the assignment.

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