A Comparison of the Performance of Analytic vs. Holistic Scoring Rubrics to Assess L2 Writing

Document Type : Original Research Article


City University of New York.


This study compared the performance of a holistic and an analytic scoring rubric to assess ESL writing for placement and diagnostic purposes in a community college basic skills program. The study used Rasch many-faceted measurement to investigate the performance of both rubrics in scoring second language (L2) writing samples from a departmental final examination. Rasch analyses were used to determine whether the rubrics successfully separated examinees along a continuum of L2 writing proficiency.  The study also investigated whether each category in the two six-point rubrics were useful.  Both scales appeared to be measuring a single latent trait of writing ability.  Raters hardly used the lower category of the holistic rubric, suggesting that it might be collapsed to create a five-point scale. The six-point scale of the analytic rubric, on the other hand, separated examinees across a wide range of strata of L2 writing ability and might therefore be the better instrument in assessment for diagnostic and placement purposes.