High School Science Essay Rubric

Writing Rubrics in Science

Communicating In Science

Written By: Tracy Lavallee, Exemplars Consultant and Teacher

Science is rich with opportunities for communication. In fact, a large part of science involves students talking, writing and reading. This communication may include scientists' meetings to discuss ideas and investigations, science journals to record observations and data, or the use of trade books to help illustrate concepts. Science also lends itself to student research, especially with topics such as the solar system that tend to be less hands-on and more content based. These research-driven topics allow students to pose questions; research ideas and concepts using a variety of print and Internet-based resources; write a report, procedure or persuasive essay; utilize the writing process to edit and revise; and then present what they have learned.

When assessing students' research and writing, I use the Exemplars rubric for science content and my district's writing rubric for GUM (grammar, usage, mechanics) and organization.

In the Exemplars rubric, there are two sets of criteria that can be used for assessing a piece of student writing:

  • Scientific Communication/Using Data: This criterion asks students to draw conclusions, explain, use representations and notation and provide evidence.
  • Scientific Concepts and Related Content: This criterion requires that students use appropriate terminology, show understanding of the content and/or concepts being researched and make connections to the principles and theories of science.

The Exemplars rubric allows me to focus on the science in my students writing, and the writing rubric allows me to focus on the process of writing.

This integration of communication and science has many benefits. For teachers, it enables us to better use our time when we make natural connections between subject areas. For students, they are able to recognize these connections and see the purpose in what and why they are learning communication skills and the application of these skills to all aspects of their learning.

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Science Rubrics

Exemplars scoring rubrics are excellent tools for assessing student work.

Exemplars science material includes standards-based rubrics that define what work meets a standard, and allows teachers (and students) to distinguish between different levels of performance. Exemplars rubrics have four levels of performance: Novice, Apprentice, Practitioner (meets the standard) and Expert.

Exemplars uses two types of rubrics:

  • Standards-Based Assessment Rubrics are used by teachers to assess student work in science. (Exemplars material includes both a general science rubric as well as task-specific rubrics with each investigation.)

Students can also use our Assessment Rubrics (and annotated anchor papers) to compare their work to during peer- and self-appraisals. This process demonstrates success as well as offers opportunities for refinement. Based on student performance, teaching and learning strategies can be adjusted.

Here's What People Are Saying

Thank you for the great hands-on ideas!

C. Levake

1st Grade Teacher

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