(incorporates both complexity and communication school-wide rubrics)


G n' R

The Last


Same Ol'
Situation (SOS)

Motley CrŁe

Look What the Cat Dragged In

Critical Thinking,
Content Mastery, and Ambiguity






Details, nuances, and subtleties in use of evidence;

Balance of content and process

Skillfully explores the complexity of the issue, topic, or idea

Insightful critical textual or source analysis

Disproves more than it proves; process of elimination through examination of multiple possibilities; conclusion is what is left

Draws inferences which demonstrate sophisticated, accurate and insightful use of evidence

Writer knows the big picture and can provide the specific details as well. Doesn't excuse ambiguity by writing in vague generalities, but explains possible interpretation of ambiguity through analysis of available details.

Effectively evaluates quality and validity of information from multiple perspectives

Proposes solutions that are thoroughly supported and demonstrate sophisticated understanding

Explores the complexity of the issues

Some insightful critical textual or source analysis

Disproves more than it proves; process of elimination through examination of a few possibilities; conclusion is what is left but other options may have been ignored

Draws inferences which demonstrate generic use of evidence

Writer fails to balance and synthesize big picture and details; may focus on one at the expense of the other. May overlook ambiguity by writing in vague generalities, but offers analysis of available details.

Evaluates quality and validity of information

Proposes logical solutions that are adequately supported

Superficially or inadequately recognizes the complexity of the issues, discusses conflicting ideas, interpretations or sources

Superficial or limited understanding of text, more descriptive than analytic; Relies on summary or opinion instead of analysis; Ineffectively synthesizes the information; Forms limited conclusions based on limited examination of information

Lacks evidence of original thinking

Preconceived notions get in the way of exploring possibilities. Therefore, big picture and details may not be balanced: may focus on one at the expense of the other. Overlooks ambiguity by writing in vague generalities because of misunderstandings or factual inaccuracies

Evaluates information with support

Proposes solutions with limited or flawed evidence

Does not recognize the complexity of the issues

Does not discusses conflicting ideas, interpretations or sources

Demonstrates inadequate or inaccurate understanding of the text; Attempts at analysis or insight are confused or inappropriate or non-existent; major errors in understanding

Demonstrates no original thinking

Provides a minimal summary of ideas. No exploration of details or ambiguity.

Has difficulty evaluating information


Has difficulty proposing logical solutions





Degree of formality

Writing makes the reader think about and react to, the authorís point of view and raise his/her own questions, yet the issue is the focus of the debate, not the author.

Writer's voice is marked by striking words and phrases that catch the readerís eye and linger in the readerís mind.

Appears neutral or unbiased, yet leads to preconceived conclusion that presents as a genuine discovery, spontaneous to the reader.

Writing makes the reader think about and react to, the authorís point of view and raise some generic questions.

Author's tone may distract from reader's focus on the issue.

Writer's voice is consistent and strong but not memorable. Predictable word choice

Preconceived conclusion is transparent, not spontaneous to the reader.

Common, at best, nothing unique, original or personal; nothing for the reader to invest in or sustain a connection with; anyone could write this; the writer hasnít taken any risks;

Development of style is limited by overly cautious or linear mindset.

Writer's voice may emerge strongly on occasion, then retreat behind general, vague, generic word choice, tentative, or abstract language.

The writer is unable to express individuality or a unique perspective; nothing authentic.

Makes no effort to understand how style enhances content.

Language is vague

Little or no sense of voice

Development of Idea; Active Inquiry


Complexity of problem or questions posed



Resolution of conflicting ideas or information


The organization flows so smoothly that the reader hardly thinks about it

The presentation of ideas is thoughtful, insightful, clear and focused. The writer may approach the topic from an unusual perspective, use his/her unique experiences or view of the world as a basis for writing, or make interesting connections between ideas. It is implicit that the exploration of this topic matters.

The essay concludes, but the thinking does not, reader is left with ideas to ponder

Straightforward statements invite further questioning by the audience without actually asking questions

Uses questions to signal narrowing or broadening of or shift in focus; starts with all the possible ideas, narrows down to the purpose; leads the reader from the specific to the abstraction that underlies it; manipulative; leads the reader through the ambiguities to the point the author wants to make, regardless of other points to be made.

Turns the issue around on the reader - starts with what is generally accepted and then refutes it; challenges preconceived notions

Initiates and sustains exploration of relevant and sophisticated questions

Demonstrates resourcefulness in accessing productive and substantive information

The writer attempts to develop all ideas; although some ideas may be developed more thoroughly and specifically than others; the overall development reflects some depth of thought, enabling the reader to generally understand and appreciate the writerís ideas.

The development of ideas is logical but the reader but has little left to ponder: ideas may be convincing but lack sophisticated exploration

Explaining, rather than exploring; a generalized idea lacking detail

Straightforward statements are made but are limited by an overuse of rhetorical questions that limit further exploration

Develops ideas to form a unified whole

Poses and considers relevant questions

Accesses relevant information

Limited by superficial generalizations; unclear or simplistic; may be simply an account of a single incident instead of articulating a purpose; therefore the reader cannot sustain interest in the ideas

Statements are obvious, little is left for the reader to question

Generally stays on topic but lapses into digressions

Develops superficial, inappropriate or unsuccessful connections among ideas

Poses and considers new questions with prompting

Needs direction in accessing relevant information

Writing is confusing, hard to follow; disorganized; no variety in sentence structure.

Develops no connections among ideas

Statements are convoluted and reader is left questioning the writing and not the ideas presented in the writing

Seldom poses new questions


Has difficulty accessing information

Presentation of Work


Style guide (format)

Grammar, Mechanics and Usage

Follows appropriate style guide (e.g. MLA)

Consistently applies rules of grammar, mechanics and usage accurately

Shows sophisticated sense of audience

Uses language artfully and articulately

Meaningfully organizes

Uses media/materials effectively

Follows appropriate style guide; sometimes lacks accuracy

Consistently applies most rules of grammar, mechanics and usage; still learning

Shows clear sense of audience

Uses language is effectively

Clearly organizes

Uses media/materials appropriately

You managed to get your name in the right placeÖ

Lacking experience with or knowledge of rules of grammar, mechanics and usage evidenced by frequent errors

Shows some sense of audience

Uses language somewhat effectively

Somewhat organized

Somewhat appropriate use of media/materials

Ignores or is ignorant of rules of grammar, mechanics and usage

Shows little sense of audience

Uses language ineffectively

Weak organization interferes with meaning

Ineffective use of media/materials