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The Meanings of the Essay Scores

Reproduced in the table below are the four essay scores and their basic descriptors. Think for a minute about these descriptors. Can you think of some examples of student writing that correspond to these levels?

  1 2 3 4
  Inadequate Marginal Adequate Effective

Now look at the statement describing the writing at each level. Notice that each statement refers to the reader of the essay, rather than the writer. These simple statements are the basis of holistic scoring.

  1 2 3 4
  Reader has difficulty identifying or following the writer’s ideas. Reader occasionally has difficulty understanding or following the writer’s ideas. Reader understands writer’s ideas. Reader understands and easily follows the writer’s expression of ideas.