An approach proven successful for me has taken several years to develop. But it does seem to encourage students to do their best work the first time. This approach includes incremental grading, allotting in-class time for peer responses to second and third drafts, including the class general grading guideline and a specific grading rubric for each assignment. I neither collect and comment on early drafts nor accept re-writes for higher grade. (The students in schools where I’ve taught tend to think if they do what is mentioned on a draft, they’ll automatically earn an A!)
Sample Incremental grading on final drafts of process papers:
Quarter One – 30 points
Quarter Two – 50 points
Quarter Three – 75 points
Quarter Four- 100 points
Adapted Six-Traits grading rubric that includes specific minimum requirements for that particular assignment. . See sample for Hamlet essay. By the end of the school, students are familiar with rubric, have had lots of time to develop their skills without heavily weight grades that appear punitive before they’ve learned the skills. In earlier quarters, other assignments are weighted more heavily to reach the typical 500 points per quarter.
For each processed paper, at least one class period for peer-responses to second or third drafts. See sample in-class peer response lessons.
Finally, invite students to submit a grade for their own writing, which I don’t look at until after I’ve graded the paper. If their grade matches mine, I raise their grade ½ step. C+ becomes B-. B becomes B+, etc. By the end of the school year, students who accept this offer generally grade themselves accurately, and not always those who earn B’s or better.
These strategies have worked well for middle school to graduate school college students.