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William Franco
William Franco

How an Argumentative Essay Rubric Can Improve Your Middle School Writing Skills



What is an argumentative essay rubric and why do you need one?




An argumentative essay rubric is a tool that teachers use to assess the quality of students' argumentative essays. An argumentative essay is a type of writing that requires students to take a position on a debatable issue and support it with relevant evidence and reasoning. An argumentative essay rubric lists the criteria that the teacher will use to evaluate the essay, such as the clarity of the claim, the relevance of the evidence, the organization of the structure, and the style of the language. Each criterion has different levels of performance that describe how well the student met the expectations and standards for that criterion.




argumentative essay rubric middle school


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An argumentative essay rubric is useful for both teachers and students. For teachers, a rubric can help them save time and increase objectivity when grading students' essays. A rubric can also provide constructive and specific feedback to students on their strengths and areas of improvement. For students, a rubric can help them understand the expectations and standards for an argumentative essay, improve their writing skills through self-assessment and peer-assessment, and set goals for future learning.


In this article, you will learn how to create and use an argumentative essay rubric for middle school students. You will also see some examples of argumentative essay rubrics from different sources. By the end of this article, you will be able to design and apply an effective argumentative essay rubric for your own classroom.


How to create an argumentative essay rubric for middle school students




Creating an argumentative essay rubric for middle school students is not a difficult task, but it does require some planning and preparation. Here are the main steps you need to follow:


Identify the criteria for a successful argumentative essay




The first step is to identify the criteria that you want your students to demonstrate in their argumentative essays. These are the essential skills and elements that make up a good argument, such as:


  • A clear claim that states the student's position on the issue and can be supported by evidence.



  • Relevant evidence that supports the claim with facts, statistics, examples, quotes, etc.



  • Counterarguments that acknowledge and refute opposing views or potential objections.



  • Organization that follows a logical structure that introduces the issue, presents the claim and evidence, addresses counterarguments, and concludes with a summary and a call to action.



  • Style that uses appropriate language, tone, voice, vocabulary, grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.



You can use these criteria as a starting point, but you may also want to add or modify them according to your specific objectives, standards, or preferences. For example, you may want to include criteria such as audience awareness, position statement, support/evidence, analysis/commentary, language/conventions, etc.


Assign points or levels to each criterion




The second step is to assign points or levels to each criterion based on the expectations and standards for middle school students. Points or levels are numerical or qualitative values that indicate how well the student performed on each criterion. For example, you can use points such as 4, 3, 2, 1 or levels such as exceeding expectations, meeting expectations, approaching expectations, beginning, etc.


The number of points or levels you choose depends on your grading system and your level of differentiation. You can use more points or levels if you want to distinguish between finer degrees of performance or less points or levels if you want to simplify your grading process. You can also assign different weights to different criteria depending on their importance or difficulty.


Write clear and specific descriptors for each level of performance




The third step is to write clear and specific descriptors for each level of performance that describe what the student did or did not do for each criterion. Descriptors are statements that explain the characteristics or qualities of each level of performance in relation to each criterion. For example, for the criterion of evidence, you can write descriptors such as:


```html The student provides ample and varied evidence that supports the claim with facts, statistics, examples, quotes, etc. The evidence is relevant, accurate, credible, and well-explained.


  • Meeting expectations: The student provides sufficient and diverse evidence that supports the claim with facts, statistics, examples, quotes, etc. The evidence is mostly relevant, accurate, credible, and well-explained.



  • Approaching expectations: The student provides some or limited evidence that supports the claim with facts, statistics, examples, quotes, etc. The evidence is partially relevant, accurate, credible, or well-explained.



  • Beginning: The student provides little or no evidence that supports the claim with facts, statistics, examples, quotes, etc. The evidence is irrelevant, inaccurate, unreliable, or poorly explained.



You can use these descriptors as a guide, but you may also want to customize them according to your specific objectives, standards, or preferences. For example, you may want to use different words or phrases to describe each level of performance or provide more or less detail for each descriptor.


Review and revise the rubric as needed




The fourth step is to review and revise the rubric as needed to ensure clarity, accuracy, fairness, and consistency. You can use the following questions to check your rubric:


  • Are the criteria clear and specific?



  • Are the points or levels appropriate and aligned with the expectations and standards?



  • Are the descriptors clear and specific?



  • Do the descriptors match the criteria and the points or levels?



  • Is the rubric easy to use and understand?



  • Is the rubric fair and consistent?



You can also ask for feedback from your colleagues or students to improve your rubric. You can also test your rubric on some sample essays to see if it works as intended.


How to use an argumentative essay rubric for middle school students




Using an argumentative essay rubric for middle school students is not a difficult task either, but it does require some strategies and practices. Here are the main ways you can use a rubric:


Use the rubric as a teaching tool




One way you can use the rubric is as a teaching tool to introduce the expectations and standards for an argumentative essay to your students. You can use the rubric to:


  • Show your students what a good argumentative essay looks like and what skills and elements they need to master.



  • Provide examples and non-examples of each level of performance for each criterion and explain why they are good or bad.



  • Model self-assessment and peer-assessment skills by using the rubric to evaluate your own or others' essays and provide constructive feedback.



Use the rubric as a feedback tool




Another way you can use the rubric is as a feedback tool to provide constructive and specific feedback to your students on their argumentative essays. You can use the rubric to:


  • Identify the strengths and areas of improvement of each student's essay based on the criteria and descriptors.



  • Provide positive and negative comments that highlight what the student did well and what they need to work on.



  • Guide revision and editing processes by suggesting ways to improve each criterion or level of performance.



  • Encourage reflection and goal-setting skills by asking students to self-assess their essays using the rubric and set goals for future improvement.



Use the rubric as a grading tool




A third way you can use the rubric is as a grading tool to assess your students' performance on their argumentative essays objectively and consistently. You can use the rubric to:


  • Assign points or levels to each criterion based on the descriptors that match the student's performance.



  • Add up the points or levels for each criterion to get a total score or level for the essay.



  • Justify grades with evidence from the rubric that shows how you evaluated each criterion and level of performance.



Examples of argumentative essay rubrics for middle school students




To give you some ideas of what an argumentative essay rubric for middle school students looks like, here are some examples of rubrics from different sources. You can use these examples as inspiration, but you may also want to create your own rubric that suits your needs and preferences.


Example 1: Middle School Argumentative Essay Rubric by Marco Learning




This rubric by Marco Learning is designed for middle school students who are writing argumentative essays. The rubric has five criteria: purpose, organization, evidence, analysis, and style. Each criterion has four levels of performance: exceeding expectations, meeting expectations, approaching expectations, and beginning. Each level of performance has a descriptor that explains what the student did or did not do for each criterion. Here is a summary of the rubric:


Criterion Exceeding Expectations Meeting Expectations Approaching Expectations Beginning --- --- --- --- --- Purpose The argument is specific and relevant. The argument is written in response to the prompt provided. The argument is distinguishable from opposing claims. All questions posed, or requirements provided by the prompt, are met and thoughtfully incorporated. The argument is specific. The argument is written in response to the prompt provided. The argument is distinguishable from opposing claims. Most questions posed, or requirements provided by the prompt, are thoroughly met and incorporated. The argument is unclear or lacks specificity. The argument is not written in response to the prompt provided. Some questions posed, or requirements provided by the prompt, are met and incorporated. The argument is absent. None or few requirements of the prompt are met. Organization The introduction states the argument, provides necessary background information, and attempts to pique the interest of the reader. Body paragraphs flow in a logical fashion that supports and builds the argument. Paragraphs are separated appropriately and flow through the use of varied transitional phrases. The conclusion is a thoughtful summary of the argument. The introduction states the argument and provides some background information. Body paragraphs support the argument. Paragraphs are separated appropriately through some varied transitions. The conclusion is a summary of the argument. The introduction states the argument but provides limited background information. Body paragraphs attempt to support the argument. Paragraphs may be inappropriately combined and contain few and/or repetitive transitions. The conclusion is a limited summary of the argument. The introduction does not clearly state the argument or provide relevant background information. Body paragraphs are limited and do little to support the argument. Paragraphs contain few, if any, transitions. The conclusion does not effectively connect back to the argument. Evidence The student provides ample and varied evidence that supports the claim with facts, statistics, examples, quotes, etc. The evidence is relevant, accurate, credible, and well-explained. The student provides sufficient and diverse evidence that supports the claim with facts, statistics, examples, quotes, etc. The evidence is mostly relevant, accurate, credible, and well-explained. The student provides some or limited evidence that supports the claim with facts, statistics, examples, quotes, etc. The evidence is partially relevant, accurate, credible, or well-explained. The student provides little or no evidence that supports the claim with facts, statistics, examples, quotes, etc. The evidence is irrelevant, inaccurate, unreliable, or poorly explained. Analysis The student provides insightful and thorough analysis that explains how the evidence supports the claim and addresses counterarguments or potential objections. The student provides adequate and clear analysis that explains how the evidence supports the claim and addresses counterarguments or potential objections. The student provides minimal or vague analysis that partially explains how the evidence supports the claim or addresses counterarguments or potential objections. The student provides no or incorrect analysis that does not explain how the evidence supports the claim or addresses counterarguments or potential objections. Style The student uses appropriate language, tone, voice, vocabulary, grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. The student demonstrates a strong command of language conventions and avoids errors that interfere with meaning. The student uses mostly appropriate language, tone, voice, vocabulary, grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. The student demonstrates a good command of language conventions and makes few errors that interfere with meaning. The student uses some inappropriate language, tone, voice, vocabulary, grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. The student demonstrates a basic command of language conventions and makes several errors that interfere with meaning. The student uses inappropriate language, tone, voice, vocabulary, grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. The student demonstrates a weak command of language conventions and makes many errors that interfere with meaning. Example 2: Persuasion Rubric by Read Write Think




This rubric by Read Write Think is designed for students who are creating persuasive projects such as essays, speeches, posters, or any type of assignment that incorporates persuasion. ```html : audience awareness, position statement, support/evidence, and organization/structure. Each criterion has four levels of performance: excellent/4 points, good/3 points, fair/2 points, poor/1 point. Each level of performance has a descriptor that explains what the student did or did not do for each criterion. Here is a summary of the rubric:


Criterion Excellent Good Fair Poor --- --- --- --- --- Audience Awareness The student demonstrates a clear understanding of the potential reader and uses appropriate vocabulary and arguments. Anticipates readers questions and provides thorough answers appropriate for that audience. The student demonstrates some understanding of the potential reader and uses mostly appropriate vocabulary and arguments. Anticipates some of readers questions and provides answers appropriate for that audience. The student demonstrates little understanding of the potential reader and uses vocabulary and arguments that may not be appropriate. Anticipates few of readers questions and provides vague answers that may not address the concerns of that audience. The student demonstrates no understanding of the potential reader and uses vocabulary and arguments that are inappropriate. Anticipates none of readers questions and provides no answers or irrelevant answers that do not address the concerns of that audience. Position Statement The position statement provides a clear, strong statement of the authors position on the topic. The position statement provides a clear statement of the authors position on the topic. The position statement provides a somewhat unclear statement of the authors position on the topic. The position statement is missing or unclear and does not state the authors position on the topic. Support/Evidence The student provides ample, relevant, and convincing evidence to support the position statement. The evidence includes facts, statistics, examples, quotes, etc. from credible sources. The evidence is explained and analyzed in relation to the position statement. The student provides sufficient, relevant, and somewhat convincing evidence to support the position statement. The evidence includes facts, statistics, examples, quotes, etc. from credible sources. The evidence is mostly explained and analyzed in relation to the position statement. The student provides some or limited evidence to support the position statement. The evidence may include facts, statistics, examples, quotes, etc. from questionable sources. The evidence is partially explained or analyzed in relation to the position statement. The student provides little or no evidence to support the position statement. The evidence may include facts, statistics, examples, quotes, etc. from unreliable sources. The evidence is not explained or analyzed in relation to the position statement. Organization/Structure The project has a clear and effective organizational structure that follows a logical sequence that introduces the issue, presents the position statement and evidence, addresses counterarguments or potential objections, and concludes with a summary and a call to action. The project uses varied transitions to connect ideas and sections. The project has a clear organizational structure that follows a logical sequence that introduces the issue, presents the position statement and evidence, addresses counterarguments or potential objections, and concludes with a summary and a call to action. The project uses some transitions to connect ideas and sections. The project has an unclear or weak organizational structure that attempts to follow a logical sequence but may omit some elements or present them in an illogical order. The project uses few or repetitive transitions to connect ideas and sections. The project has no organizational structure or follows an illogical sequence that does not introduce the issue, present the position statement and evidence, address counterarguments or potential objections, or conclude with a summary and a call to action. The project uses no transitions to connect ideas and sections. Example 3: Middle School Writing Rubrics by Catlin Tucker




These rubrics by Catlin Tucker are designed for middle school students who are writing different types of essays, such as argumentative, informative/explanatory, narrative, etc. The rubrics have five criteria: focus/purpose/thesis statement, organization/transitions, evidence/support, analysis/commentary, and language/conventions. Each criterion has four levels of performance: advanced/4 points, proficient/3 points, basic/2 points, below basic/1 point. Each level of performance has a descriptor that explains what the student did or did not do for each criterion. Here is a summary of the rubric for argumentative essays:


Criterion Advanced Proficient Basic Below Basic --- --- --- --- --- Focus/Purpose/Thesis Statement The student establishes a clear, arguable, and relevant claim that can be supported by evidence. The student addresses the purpose and audience of the essay. The student provides a clear and concise thesis statement that previews the main points of the essay. The student establishes a clear, arguable, and somewhat relevant claim that can be supported by evidence. The student addresses the purpose and audience of the essay. The student provides a clear thesis statement that previews the main points of the essay. The student establishes an unclear, weak, or irrelevant claim that may not be supported by evidence. The student vaguely addresses the purpose and audience of the essay. The student provides an unclear or incomplete thesis statement that does not preview the main points of the essay. The student does no


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