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How is Creative Writing (aka Scenario Writing) evaluated?

Trained evaluators use a Creative Writing, aka Scenario Writing (SW), rubric-based assessment to evaluate student work in seven areas. See a sample scoresheet at the bottom of this article. Students receive quantitative feedback in their scores, which are marked from developing to exemplary. Evaluators leave qualitative feedback in order to support student writing skills in their future creative writing submissions.

Score breakdown

Creative thinking1015%
Futuristic thinking1015%
Idea development1523%
Character development58%
Topic integration58%

Rubric evaluation

Our rubric is a scoring guide that indicates the expectations for the creative narrative and is used to evaluate the quality of students’ work. The rubric is presented as a table, with criteria and descriptions of quality. Our scoresheet measures seven criteria along five levels of proficiency. The five levels are beginning, developing, proficient, strong, and exemplary.

Since there is no single “right” answer, our evaluations employ a variety of strategies to review student work. Performance-based evaluations assess submissions using seven specific criteria related to writing, creative thinking, and more. We take extra care to provide specific, detailed feedback in each evaluation so that students and their coaches can use their feedback to develop and improve their skills.

While authentic assessment of student learning always comes first, we also depend on our uniform evaluation guidelines to provide a fair, consistent, and reliable method for competition scoring. All evaluators must be trained and certified before evaluating student work.

Creative thinking

Evaluators measure whether students move beyond obvious or commonplace ideas to assess their creative thinking skills used in their story. A strong submission will include innovative or ingenious ideas, unusual and imaginative details, and create a unique or powerful experience for the reader.

Students whose stories receive the highest scores incorporate inventive approaches throughout their scenario.

  • Inventive thinking
  • Unusual approaches to plot development, novel characteristics of objects/characters, “out of the box” thinking, etc. 
  • Unusual setting or characters 
  • Surprise or novel beginning or ending 
  • Elaborated sensory details as well as details of reflections, emotions, or thoughts 

Futuristic thinking

Evaluators measure whether students look beyond the trends of today into the possibilities of tomorrow to assess their integration of futuristic thinking in their story. A strong submission will include an understanding of how patterns and trends might evolve, specialized language related to the topic and story, and a strong portrayal of futuristic trends or predictions enhancing the story.

Students whose stories receive the highest scores incorporate futuristic approaches throughout the scenario.

  • Ideas based on current trends/research
  • Logical projections into the future
  • Distinctions between between futuristic trends/research as opposed to topic-related research
  • Details that make ideas believable
  • Futuristic ideas/terminology are relevant to the story and/or the topic

Idea development

Evaluators measure whether the student has effectively elaborated and organized the plot and story progression to assess idea development of the scenario. A strong submission will include complex ideas supported by rich, engaging, pertinent details, strong evidence of analysis, reflection, insight exploring different aspects of the topic, sophisticated organizational strategies, and will capture the reader’s attention.

International Conference
At our world finals, “idea development” includes scoring for connection to a future scene, as students are challenged to write up to 1,000 words using a provided future scenario on the International Conference topic as inspiration.

Students whose stories receive the highest scores incorporate idea development throughout the scenario.

  • Appropriate rising action and conflict resolution
  • Note: resolution does not necessarily mean a solution
  • Reflections/insights into the consequence of characters’ actions or challenges 
  • Connections that engage the reader
  • Positive societal effects
  • Logical connection to the topic
  • Believable explanations
  • Cause/effect relationships that move the plot forward
  • Sophisticated organizational strategies
  • Natural transitions


Evaluators measure a student’s characteristic ways of writing determined by diction, imagery, tone, and choice of literary devices to assess the writer’s style/voice. Submissions with strong style/voice include clear, distinctive personal touch, use of literary techniques that makes text lively and engaging, unique stylistic nuances and elements, well-crafted, varied sentence structures, skillful use of vocabulary allowing reader to become emotionally involved, and motivates the reader to reflect on purpose and consequences.

Students whose stories score the highest include strong style/voice throughout the scenario.

  • Writing techniques including simile/metaphor, idioms, sensory detail, symbolism, understatement, exaggeration, personification, foreshadowing, and allusion
  • Well crafted, varied sentences
  • Conscientious word choice, accounting for the writer’s age/division 
  • Personal touch motivating the reader to consider consequences
  • Skillful use of vocabulary
  • Effective inclusion of dialogue and/or internal monologue
  • Purposeful use of dialect through word choice, spelling and punctuation

Character development

Evaluators measure whether the student creates distinct, identifiable character(s) who possess depth and personality to assess character development in the story. Submissions with strong character development will include authentic characters with dynamic natures enhancing the overall impact and effectiveness of the writing, characters who evoke emotional response, writing that provides insight, perspective, and empathy with characters, and a sense of involvement with the characters throughout the story.

Students whose stories score the highest develop characters throughout the scenario.

  • Many facets of the characters’ personalities evident
  • Characters showing emotional responses to situations/dialogue
  • Characters that analyze, reflect, show insight, or problem solve
  • Evolution of character(s) 
  • Characters evoke emotional response


Evaluators measure whether a student effectively communicates ideas with appropriate grammar, punctuation, capitalization, spelling, and word usage to assess mechanics. Strong submissions are clearly edited and include clear control of grammar and punctuation, creative use of conventions to enhance meaning, license intentionally taken with some conventions to make a point, and dialogue, dialect, slang, etc. 

Students whose stories score the highest demonstrate effective mechanics throughout the scenario.

  • Employs conventions creatively for a purpose or to enhance meaning
  • “Plays” with dialogue, dialect, or slang without detracting from story line
  • Choices that enhance rather than detract from readability

Topic integration

Evaluations measure whether students maintain connection to topic issues throughout the story to assess topic integration within the scenario. Strong submissions artfully blend topic knowledge with the storyline and show knowledge of the topic, as well as an understanding of the topic’s futuristic trends.

Students whose stories score highest demonstration effective topic integration throughout the scenario.

  • An understanding of cause/effect relationships concerning the topic
  • Blending topic research and/or futuristic trends into the story line
  • Inclusion of relevant terminology as well as a logical knowledge about the topic

Become an Evaluator

We welcome anyone in our global community to participate in our Creative Writing evaluator certification process. Many alumni choose to stay connected and give back to the program as evaluators. It’s common for experienced coaches and senior division students to evaluate as well. All evaluators must complete training and certify in each program option they wish to evaluate. Contact your local affiliate for more information on becoming an evaluator. All those not connected to a local affiliate may work with our Open affiliate and/or be added to our pool of evaluators available to support needs across our global network. After successfully evaluating at the affiliate level, you may be nominated to certify as an international evaluator with an opportunity to evaluate our annual world finals competition held at our International Conference.

Attachment – Scorecard

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April Michele

April Michele Bio

Executive Director

A seasoned educator, April Michele has served as the Executive Director since 2018 and been with Future Problem Solving more than a decade. Her background in advanced curriculum strategies and highly engaging learning techniques translates well in the development of materials, publications, training, and marketing for the organization and its global network. April’s expertise includes pedagogy and strategies for critical and creative thinking and providing quality educational services for students and adults worldwide.

Prior to joining Future Problem Solving, April taught elementary and middle grades, spending most of her classroom career in Gifted Education. She earned the National Board Certification (NBPTS) as a Middle Childhood/Generalist and later served as a National Board Assessor for the certification of others. She was trained and applied the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (MYP) in Humanities, which helped widen the educational scope and boundaries beyond the U.S. In addition, April facilitated the Theory and Development of Creativity course for state level certification of teachers. She has also collaborated on a variety of special projects through the Department of Education.

A graduate of the University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s in Elementary Education and the University of South Florida with a master’s in Gifted Education, April’s passion is providing a challenging curriculum for 21st century students so they are equipped with the problem solving and ethical leadership skills they need to thrive in the future. As a board member in her local Rotary Club, she facilitates problem solving in leadership at the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA). She is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute and earned her certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Edyth Bush Institute at Rollins College.