Aspirations Reviewer Instructions

Reviews for 2021-22 applications will open on November 12, 2021!

Before you begin to review applications, please take a look at some helpful tips and steps below.


Each application is scored on a 100-point scale.

27 of the available points are based on the multiple-choice parts of the application and are automatically pre-scored. These items include extracurricular activities, post-secondary plans, and demographic points for students underrepresented in computing, who have limited access to computing and technology, or who have economic disadvantages. You do have access to the applicant’s answers to the multiple-choice sections of the application for reference.

The remaining 73 points come from qualitative short answers that you score.

Each application is reviewed by a minimum of three different reviewers and the scores are averaged to achieve a final score. The final slate of Award recipients is selected at the discretion of NCWIT and the local Affiliate committees.

Technical Notes:

  • To begin, you should familiarize yourself with the rubric before reading the application.
  • Then, you should read the applicant's entire application before you start to score the applicant. If you have reviewed applications in the past, you will notice this year applicants are scored using a holistic rubric; applicants are scored based on qualities exhibited in their entire application, rather than how well they answer each question.
  • We recommend you score and save a "draft" of at least three applications before submitting to give you an overall sense of the quality of the applications. It will also allow you to score relative to other applicants.
  • Note that applicants may respond to the open-ended questions in a bullet-point format and should not be scored based on their writing abilities.

Scoring Notes:

The scoring rubric is embedded in the online scoring system. You should consult the rubric as you score. A few additional items to note:

  • We are looking for both achievements AND aspirations. An applicant who has interned in computing and engaged in many extracurricular activities certainly deserves recognition; however, some applicants lack access to those opportunities. Look for evidence of interest, action, and enthusiasm about computing.
  • Expect the quality of the applications to vary greatly. Many of the applicants may consider use of applications such as Microsoft Word or PowerPoint to be computing. This is common and may be less indicative of the quality of the applicant than evidence of a lack of availability of quality computing education in school.
  • Access to technology and computing education is important to consider. The quantitative portion of the rubric does not award points for mere use of applications, but the qualitative portion permits a person to consider relevant circumstances.
  • Remember these are high school students who range in age from 13 to 18. We encourage them to use appropriate grammar, correct spelling and sentence structure and to express a complete thought in clear and concise terms. Not all will do so, or know how to do this well. You are scoring more on content than style.
  • In the essays, some special HTML and unicode characters are displaying in our system, e.g. & and &039;. Reviewers are instructed to not penalize students for the special characters, as this is a limitation of the system's ability (inability) to display those characters correctly. These special HTML codes should not be considered applicant typos.
  • Applicants had the opportunity to inform us if English is their first/native language and their answer is displayed to you. This may be helpful to note when reading essays. To the extent possible, non-native English speakers should not be penalized for incorrect sentence structure if obvious attempts are made at expressing themselves.
  • Spanish and French applications. This year, students are given the option to respond to the essay questions in English, Spanish or French. Answering in one language versus the other does not award extra points and should be scored equally. If you are assigned applications with responses in Spanish or French but are not fluent, please unassign yourself from these applications and notify of the application ID number so we can ensure someone fluent in Spanish or French reads that application.
  • Educator Endorsements. Students are asked to request an informal or formal educator to provide an endorsement for that application. While this is highly recommended and can only help the student's application, it is not required. Students who do not receive an educator endorsement should not be scored poorly. When reviewing the educator endorsement, it can help inform your scoring by providing more context or details that perhaps the applicant did not include in their responses. 

Qualitative Questions (Scoring guidelines are embedded on-screen and below)

You are reading and scoring the following five qualities based on the four free response questions. The free response questions are short essay questions with a suggested length of 100-250 words (required minimum is 25 words and maximum is 250 words).

Since this is a holistic rubric, you should look for the following qualities to be exemplified throughout the entire application, not only in one specific essay response.

1. Interest in Computing and Technology

In the student's essay responses, they should illustrate their interest and activities related to computing. An outstanding application will describe, with some compelling detail, what sparked their interest in computing, with specifics about their experience in computing and technology. A poor application will make no reference to why computing and technology is an interest and how that led them to pursue more opportunities. Please note that the applicant can answer this all compellingly in one question or across multiple responses. Either way, the applicant should be scored equally, so long as they exhibit this quality at some point in their essay responses. 

2. Meaningful Experience in Technology

Look for what the applicant describes they have been doing with technology. Throughout the essay questions, students should share what experience they have gained in technology and computing by referencing specific courses, skills, self-taught, clubs, or activities. When scoring the application, you should take into consideration the depth and breadth of the portrayed experience. Note: some applicants may include additional experience and projects in the “optional information.” This section can help the applicant, but as it is not required, students should not score lower if they choose not to respond to that question. This information could be helpful in scoring other qualities, too

3. Plans for the Future

Does the applicant clearly state or illustrate that they want technology to be a part of their future? You should look for the applicant’s desire to have a future in tech, creating tech, or perhaps they are creating something in tech now that will continue into the future. Take into consideration how central technology appears to be to the applicant’s future pursuits.

4. Creativity or Vision for How to Use Technology

We want to know how the student uses creative thinking to apply technology to solve problems - real or hypothetical. Strong applications clearly describe with appropriate detail a problem the student wants to solve and how they would solve it using technology. 

5. Evidence of Adversity

Our applicants have varying levels of accessibility to a computing education and experiences in tech. We want to award students who have overcome accessibility issues and continue to pursue their interests in tech. These students might not have the highest level of experience, but they seek furthering their knowledge and take advantage of opportunities when presented or by creating opportunities themselves. You may find evidence of adversity in the student’s essay responses or in the educator endorsement.

What to do with the "Optional Information" question:

Students were invited to (optionally) share additional information about the work they have done in tech. You will find this response on tab 2 “Experience with Technology” in the Application display window. 

This information may be considered in reviewers' comments and overall assessment of the application, but should not be held against applicants who did not respond to this question.

Overall Assessment

Please take a moment and assess the overall application of each student, under “Provide Your Review Comments Based on the Entire Application.”

In this section, please add anything you think might be beneficial for NCWIT and the regional Affiliate committee in the selection process. Your comments are extremely valuable and really help with the selection of Award recipients. Anything you can share, even why you scored an application the way you did, is appreciated.

These comments, and your scores, are only visible to the selection committee at the local and national level; they are NOT visible to applicants. 

Questions? Contact

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