The 2019-2020 Scoring Service has officially begun, and submission slots are open! In this service, we assist homeschool families with grading the writing of their middle school and high school students.
If you are a new customer or are considering using the service for your homeschool student, you may be curious about what the Scoring Service is like. While a previous blog post (this one) discussed common technical concerns about the Scoring Service, this post will focus on something else. Here, I shine a spotlight on how the service functions and how students can use the service to their best advantage.
Here we go!
Common Questions About How the Scoring Service Works for Homeschool Students
1. “What are the real benefits of using the Scoring Service for my student’s writing?”
Simply put, YOU won’t have to grade their compositions!
With the Scoring Service, you don’t have to be an expert in composition and grammar. Our scorers are your own personal experts! The service takes away the stress of having to evaluate the compositions on your own, which you may not feel confident doing. Our scorers are all qualified individuals who have years of experience as teachers, librarians, editors, and/or English scholars.
Also, many previous customers have said that having someone who wasn’t Mom or Dad grade their children’s papers inspired greater effort and caring from the student. Suddenly, their student WANTED to earn a good grade, and their writing improved because of this.
tl;dr : The Scoring Service provides your student with an English expert to grade their writing, and this often inspires students to care a lot more about their work.
2. “What kind of feedback is given on the submitted writing assignments?”
This answer has two parts.
First: The Scoring Service focuses on overall composition skills. Therefore, even though we do care about things like comma placement and the minutia of English grammar, the major emphasis is on clear communication and overall cohesiveness. We want to help students learn how to transition smoothly from thought to thought, how to construct a quality thesis, how to communicate their ideas in an effective manner, etc.
This means that the Scoring Service is more than a grammar check, but it does check grammar. (Mechanical skills are evaluated for approximately 10% of the final grade for each assignment.)
Second: The service includes in-text comments with specific suggestions or corrections throughout the compositions. (See the tutorial video here for how to see these in-text comments.) It also includes a completed evaluation rubric with a point-value score as well as a one-paragraph overall comment about the general strengths and weaknesses of the composition.
tl;dr : First, the service focuses on overall composition skills but does evaluate grammar/mechanical skills. Second, the service provides in-text comments, a rubric and point value score, and an overall comment for each submitted composition.
3. “What are we supposed to do with the feedback the scorer gives?”
For one thing, read it. 🙂 Always check the rubric, overall comment, and in-text comments. These three components work together to provide your student a holistic evaluation of their work.
Next, apply the feedback to the next assignment your student completes.
Currently, the Scoring Service is unable to allow multiple submissions for a single assignment. That means the feedback we leave on the paper is NOT meant for the student to go through the paper again and make corrections where indicated. (Although they can do that on their own if they desire the practice.) Rather, they should take the feedback given and do a self-evaluation of the NEXT assignment BEFORE submitting it.
For example, let’s say your student submitted an Expository Essay, and the scorer left a comment saying, “This thesis was vague. Being more specific will create a stronger thesis.” Now, while it might be good practice for your student to rewrite the weak thesis in the Expository Essay, it is ESPECIALLY important for your student to check their thesis in their NEXT assignment (let’s say it’s the Persuasive Essay) before they submit it. Is their persuasive thesis just like their expository thesis—that is, vague? Or is it more specific and therefore stronger? This is how your student is to use the feedback the scorer provides.
tl:dr : First, read all three components of the feedback. Second, apply the suggestions and corrections to the next assignment before submitting.
These are some of the main questions parents ask us about how the Scoring Service works. I hope this post makes customers of the service feel more confident about going into this school year and addresses some concerns potential customers have.
If you’d like to hear what previous customers of the Scoring Service have to say about it, hop over to Facebook and check out our Parent Groups! We are all about community and supporting each other here at Essentials in Writing.
By Athena Lester
Head of Curriculum and Scoring