The Fourteenth Amendment and the Rights Revolution

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 Formal Paper Grading Guide

A: This paper is outstanding and distinctive. It meets the assignment with a fresh, engaging and insightful thesis. It develops original ideas with concise and lively language. It consistently and effectively mobilizes evidence in support of the argument and subarguments. If a research paper, it reflects thorough research in both primary and secondary sources, effectively integrates and explains all quotations, and argues from the evidence. It is focused, has a clear sense of purpose and a fluid, logical organization. It consistently addresses its audience. Paragraphs are well-developed and show coherence, unity (both as a unit and as part of the entire essay), and complex organization. Sentences are varied and carry sophisticated ideas using appropriate techniques of coordination and subordination. Words are fresh and well chosen. The paper contains few stylistic or mechanical errors. If any are present, they aren't distracting enough to undermine the paper's power. For papers with intermediate deadlines, the A paper fully meets all deadlines and requirements.

B: This paper, like the A paper, goes beyond typical responses to the assignment. "Beyond typical" means that the writer has chosen a promising and non-obvious topic, and has developed it insightfully with fresh and lively language. The topic is appropriate to the assignment and pitched in a way that engages the reader. The paper is well organized, developed, and supported by appropriate primary and secondary research. The writer makes a clear commitment to the reader and shows a strong sense of audience and purpose. General statements are supported, the voice is fairly steady, and for the most part, the style is non-distracting. Words are well-chosen and sentences are varied. The primary things holding this paper back from an A may relate to ideas that are perhaps unevenly or inadequately developed, use of a more limited range of primary and secondary research and somewhat weaker integration of quotes, and minor grammatical/stylistic errors that may work against the author's authority. For papers with intermediate deadlines, the B paper fully meets all deadlines and requirements.

C: This paper covers all or most of the bases and should not be confused with a "failing" paper. Instead, the C paper is one that fails to fully engage readers -- it hasn't found its 'hook." This paper may focus on appropriate topics and demonstrate basic understanding of the assignment, and where appropriate, of the research process. It advances a reasonable thesis, but that thesis might not be clearly stated, or might be ineffectively located. Sections of this paper may be inadequately or unevenly developed. Relevant supporting detail is used in the paper, but the examples are not explicated fully enough or not fully supported by appropriate primary and secondary evidence. The paper may derive too much from its sources, or for other reasons may include ideas that are unoriginal or typical. The paper's organization is basically clear, but may present some gaps in logic or uniformity. The paper lacks the sharpness of focus and vivacity of insight that characterize the B and A papers. The style is readable but errors or misuses of grammar, mechanics, diction, and/or sentence structure are more of a problem than in the B paper. For papers with intermediate deadlines, the C has only minor gaps in meeting all requirements on time at each stage.

D: This is a paper that begins to meet the requirements of the assignment but is generally weak. Its thesis or viewpoint is not limited enough, or, perhaps, not stated clearly enough. Alternately, the thesis may be clearly supported, but the support offered may not be wholly accurate or relevant but in any case is insufficient. Where a research paper, the author has not adequately followed through the research process, relying on minimal primary and secondary sources and failing to integrate what evidence is used in support of the argument. The organization may be loose and, in some places, perhaps confusing. The voice and tone may be inconsistent or somewhat inappropriate, and the style makes it difficult for the reader to understand what is being said. The sentence structure is at times awkward; the diction, vague or ambiguous and the handling of grammar and mechanics, incorrect enough to be seriously distracting to the reader. A paper with content that is essentially derivative or shows misunderstanding, a paper that loses its focus or point of view or that is essentially vague is likely to receive the grade of D. For papers with intermediate deadlines, a paper that fails to meet one or more steps along the way would merit a grade of D.

F: The failing paper usually has many interrelated flaws in viewpoint, content, underlying research, organization, voice, tone and style and this combination of flaws renders the paper essentially ineffective. Among the most serious of these flaws are: lack of a controlling viewpoint, a thesis that is unclear, lack of development or supporting detail; absence of any apparent organizational plan; a voice and tone that alienate the audience; and a style that is unreadable either because of the vagueness and imprecision or because of the magnitude of its deviations from the conventions of Edited American English. A paper whose point is difficult to decipher, a paper whose content that is almost entirely derivative and shows serious misunderstanding of the subject, or a paper that does not respond directly or fully to the assignment will most likely receive a grade of F. A paper containing plagiarism will also receive a failing grade. For papers with intermediate deadlines, a paper that fails to meet multiple steps along the way would merit a grade of F.

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