Michael Thune
English & World Languages
Department Chair
Office: C-1049
Phone: (815) 280-6663
Email: mthune@jjc.edu

JoAn Pollack Ayorinde
English & World Languages
Department Secretary
Office: C-1050
Phone: (815) 280-6633
Fax: (815) 280-6730
Email: jpollack@jjc.edu

Composition Grading Standards 

Student proofreading a paper 

The English and World Languages department has adopted a uniform set of grading standards for essays in English 101 and 102. The standards are included in the Guide to Student Learning for English 101 and the Guide for Student Learning for English 102, which are distributed to students in those courses in the first week of classes. The full text of the standards is included here as well. These standards are determined by the Joliet Junior College Department of English and World Languages, following guidelines set forth by such organizations as the National Council of Teachers of English, which in turn base its standards on the competency needed for success in other college courses and employment after graduation.

Your instructor evaluates each essay for its rhetorical, grammatical, and mechanical elements.

Rhetorical Elements:

  • Thesis statement - Do you have one sentence which asserts an informed opinion about the subject, controls the scope of your essay, and suggests how your essay will proceed? Is your thesis an accurate and appropriate response to the assignment?
  • Logical organization - Do you put your ideas in a logical order, such as chronological or emphatic, or are your thoughts merely arranged at random?
  • Unity and Coherence - Do you use transitional words and phrases to help the reader follow the various directions that your argument takes? Do you use pronouns, effective repetition, parallelism, and other devices to achieve continuity and make logical connections?
  • Supporting evidence - Do you prove your case to the reader? Do you use examples, facts, statistics, quotations, and anecdotes to show the reader the validity of your argument?
  • Acknowledgment and integration of sources - When using outside research, do you properly mention the name of each source and do so in a way that smoothly blends in with your own sentences? Do you use correct MLA documentation when required?
  • Critical thinking - Have you truly considered your subject from several angles, not just the most obvious ones? Do you question assumptions? Do you identify and critique bias in your outside sources?
  • Effective Sentences - Do you form sentences that demonstrate an awareness of effective construction? Are sentences concise, varied, and emphatic? Do they demonstrate relationships through effective coordination, subordination, and parallelism?
  • Effective Word Choices - Are word choices varied, specific, and judiciously chosen? Do choices demonstrate an awareness of connotation and appropriate level of formality?

Grammatical Elements

  • Correct Sentence Structures - Do you form complete, syntactically acceptable sentences?
  • Correct Usage - Are parts of speech used correctly? Does your writing demonstrate correct agreement, case, tense, and form?

Mechanical Elements

  • Punctuation - Is all punctuation correct according to conventions of American English?
  • Other Mechanical Conventions - Are capitalization, italics, abbreviations, numbers, and spelling used correctly according to conventions of American English?

Grading Standards

The starting point for these standards is the "C" paper. "A" and "B" papers must meet and exceed the standards of a "C" paper. Failure to meet any one of the criteria listed in each category is sufficient basis for a lower grade.

"A" Paper
  1. The paper clearly exceeds all the requirements of the assignment.
  2. The thesis reveals complexity and originality in the interpretation of a given topic.
  3. The paper addresses the assigned topic with originality and insight.
  4. The paper demonstrates clear and complete understanding of grammar and mechanics; it has very few grammatical errors.
"B" Paper
  1. The paper fulfills and exceeds all the requirements of the assignment.
  2. The thesis reveals some complexity in interpretation of the topic.
  3. The paper demonstrates coherent reasoning and organized structure.
  4. The paper remains unified, develops its thesis fully, uses detailed support, and clearly defines relationships among ideas.
  5. The paper demonstrates clear understanding of grammar and mechanics; it is relatively free of grammatical errors.
"C" Paper
  1. The paper fulfills all the requirements of the assignment.
  2. The paper explicitly states the thesis.
  3. The introduction states the topic of the paper and establishes appropriate tone for the intended audience.
  4. The body of the paper consists of paragraphs that support the thesis.
  5. The conclusion revisits the thesis while suggesting further implications.
  6. The paper may be weak or faulty in reasoning and lack specific support.
  7. The "C" paper lacks the sophistication of an "A" or "B" paper.
  8. The paper demonstrates a basic understanding of grammar and mechanics; it is moderately free of grammatical errors.
"D" Paper
  1. The paper lacks the minimal rhetorical requirements characteristic of a "C" paper.
  2. The thesis is not explicitly stated.
  3. Attempts at support are overly general and repetitious.
  4. The paper demonstrates some fundamental misunderstanding of grammar and mechanics; it has many grammatical errors.
"F" Paper
  1. A failing paper does not meet the requirements of the assignment.
  2. The paper lacks the essential structural components.
  3. Any form of plagiarism will receive a zero or no credit for the assignment.
  4. A paper demonstrates a significant lack of understanding of grammar and mechanics; it has excessive grammatical errors.

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Joliet Junior College
1215 Houbolt Road, Joliet, IL 60431-8938
Phone: (815) 729-9020