The Scoring Process

When are portfolios scored?

The scoring process takes place over three days in June. Readers meet for breakfast, training (day 1 only), scoring, and lunch.

Who reads the writing portfolios?

All Carleton faculty members are invited to read portfolios and there are usually about 35 readers each June. They can (and do!) come from any department on campus – Biology, Linguistics, Dance, Art, Economics,… you get the idea.  A few of our readers may be staff members, usually from the library and/or the Write Place.  

Who will read my writing portfolio?

During the scoring process, all portfolios are available to all readers. Some readers avoid the portfolios of their own students; others just take the first folder they pick up. One exception: if your portfolio meets the requirements in English and includes an extra paper that’s not in English, we’ll give it to a reader who speaks that language, if there is one.

How many people will read my writing portfolio?

Usually one or two. If the first reader scores your portfolio as “needs work” or “exemplary” it will be read again.  If the first reader is someone who doesn’t normally work with Carleton student writing (a librarian for example), it will be read again. A few of the “pass” portfolios are selected at random for re-reading to help us check for inconsistencies in scoring.  A second reader does not see the score sheets from a first reader.  

What if different readers give my portfolio different scores?

If two readers score your portfolio differently, they meet to discuss your portfolio and agree on a final score.  Occasionally your portfolio will be given to a third reader.

How are readers trained?

All readers participate in a norming process on the first day of scoring. Experienced readers share what they’ve learned and new readers have a lot of opportunities to ask questions. Everyone reads and discusses a set of three or four portfolios from the prior year (with student names removed). These conversations are always lively – the readers enjoy seeing papers outside of their fields and sharing ideas with their colleagues from other departments.

Is there a quota?  Are readers supposed to give a certain percentage of “needs work,” “pass,” or “exemplary” scores?

No.  And the distribution of scores varies from year to year. In the past few years we’ve seen anywhere from 5-14% of portfolios in the “needs work” category and anywhere from 6-9% in the “exemplary” group.

Does my original grade on a paper affect its score for the portfolio?

No. To make sure there's no bias due to the grade you earned, you should provide only a clean copy of each paper without a grade or comments from another professor.

What feedback will I receive?

You’ll receive your score by email after the scores have been recorded (late in July or early in August). When you return to campus, your portfolio and score sheet(s) will be returned to your campus mailbox.  If you have questions about your score or your comments, contact the WAC Director, George Cusack. If you don’t receive your portfolio, contact the Assistant to the Director, Mary Drew.

Will my portfolio score appear on my transcript?
If your portfolio was scored “pass” it will appear on your Degree Audit as follows (though the date will vary):
PORT.FOLIO Passed.................. 12/SU --- 0 *NE

If your portfolio was scored “exemplary” it will appear on your Degree Audit as follows (though the date will vary):
PORT.FOLIO Passed-Exemplary Rating. 12/SU --- 0 *NE

What if my portfolio doesn’t pass?

Each year, a relatively small percentage of students submit portfolios that are rated “needs work.” The reasons tend to cluster in these ways:

  1. The writer hurried through the submission process and did not take time to review papers for obvious errors and textual problems. See the Insider’s Guide for advice on preparing a solid portfolio and the Tips for Success above.
  2. The writer chose papers that were similar in structure or subject matter, even if they met the portfolio criteria. For example, a portfolio with two English papers and a Religion paper, all of which involve close reading of primary texts, would be strengthened by the addition of a social science or math/natural science paper to show breadth.
  3. The writer submitted two or more papers from the same course. This strategy exacerbates the problem noted in #2, above. We really do want students to demonstrate their writing across the curriculum.
  4. The writer shows difficulty with argument, citation practices, use of evidence, logical organization, or other rhetorical strategies. Individual help, perhaps connected to work underway in the following term, can be useful as writers continue in the major and approach comps.
  5. The writer has difficulty managing Standard American English. In some cases, writers are referred to Writing Center staff with expertise in teaching English as a second (or third or fourth) language for individual help.

In all cases, the Director of Writing Across the Curriculum or another writing professional will work individually with students to agree on the problems, propose solutions, and resubmit the portfolio during the next term the writer is on campus.