There are several ways to assess writing. The most common method is to use some sort of rubric. Items on the rubric range from state-mandated writing standards to individual items specific to an assignment. Other forms of writing assessment use checklists or rating scales.
A teacher isn't the only one who can assess a writing sample. Students can assess their own writing by working in pairs or small groups. Small groups of students can meet and conference about one piece or each student can bring a piece to exchange and have reviewed.
As with any good assessment, the purpose should drive the procedure.
6 + 1 Trait® Writing
Developed by Education Northwest, the 6 + 1 Trait® Writing Model of Instruction and Assessment is based on common characteristics of good writing. The model uses common language and scoring guides to identify what "good" writing looks like. The 6+1 traits within the model are: ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, conventions, and presentation. For each trait, there's a scale with descriptors for scoring. Much more information about 6+1 Trait® Writing can be found within Education Northwest's site, including information about the Beginning Writer's continuum (BWC) which can be used with K-2 students.
6+1 Trait® Writing >
Create your own rubric
There are several sites that enable you to create your own rubric for assessing writing samples. Project Based Learning has a 'Create a Printable Checklist' feature that is easy to use. Within a particular category (example: Conventions) one can choose items within conventions to include on the rubric (example: I leave white spaces between my words. My sentences begin in different ways.)
Create a printable checklist >
Student self-assessment of writing
Many teachers ask students to read over what they've written before it's considered finished. It's often helpful to provide students with a basic checklist to use as they review their work. This student checklist is based on the 6-Trait writing. The items are written using kid-friendly terms.
Download student checklist (PDF) >
Download student checklist "Post-It" template (PDF) >
Students can work together in pairs or small groups during the editing and revising stages of the writing process. This peer editing can help students learn about parts of their writing that was unclear, discover which parts an audience found exciting, and get some suggestions for other things to add. ReadWriteThink offers a series of lessons that teach students how to peer edit using three steps: compliments, suggestions, and corrections.
Peer editing lesson plan >