Create Rubrics for Student Assessment - Step by Step

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Familiarize Yourself with Rubrics

If you are new to using rubrics, take a moment and familiarize yourself with the fundamental definition of rubrics and how they work.

Rubrics work well for assessing a variety of student work, however there are some instances where rubrics would not be necessary or appropriate. For example, a rubric would likely not be necessary for a multiple-choice math test with an objective score; however, a rubric would be perfectly suited to assess a multi-step problem solving test which is more subjectively graded.

Another strength of rubrics is that they communicate learning goals very clearly to both students and parents. Rubrics are evidence-based and widely accepted as an important aspect of good teaching.

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State the Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

are the first, and most important part, of a well-written lesson plan. It serves as a road map for what you want your students to learn by the end of your instruction.

When creating a rubric, the learning objectives will serve as your criteria for grading the student work. The objectives should be written our clearly and explicitly for use in the rubric.

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Determine How Many Dimensions You Will Need

Often, it will make sense to have multiple rubrics to assess a single project. For example, on a writing assessment, you could have one rubric to measure neatness, one for word choice, one for the introduction, one for grammar and punctuation, and so on.

Of course, it will take more time to develop and administer a multi-dimensional rubric, but the payoff can be huge. As a teacher, you will have a wide range of in-depth information on what your students have learned and can do. Relatedly, you can share the rubric information with your students and they will know how they can improve next time in order to more up the rubric scale. Lastly, parents will appreciate the detailed feedback on their child's performance on a given project.

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Consider Whether a Checklist Would Make More Sense For You

Rather than a rating system with numerical scores, you may choose to assess the student work using an alternative form of rubrics which is a checklist. If you use a checklist, you will be listing the learning behaviors that you hope to see and then you will simply check next to the ones that are there in a given student's work. If there is no check mark next to an item, that means it is missing from the student's final product.

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Decide on the Pass / Fail Line

When you are delineating the possible rubric scores, you will need to decide on a pass/fail line. Scores below this line have not met the stated learning objectives, while those above have met the standards for this assignment.

Often, on a six-point rubric, four points is "passing." Thus, you can calibrate the rubric so that meeting the basic learning objective earns the student a four. Exceeding that fundamental level, to varying degrees, earns a five or a six.

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Practice Using the Rubric on Real Student Work

Before you hold your students accountable with a final grade, test out your new rubric on a few pieces of actual student work. For objectivity, you might even consider asking another teacher for work from her students.

You can also run your new rubric by your colleagues and/or administrators for feedback and suggestions. It is crucial to be meticulous in writing a rubric because it will be communicated to your students and their parents, and should never be held in secret.

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Communicate Your Rubric to the Class

Depending on what grade level you teach, you should explain the rubric to your students in a way that they will be able to understand and strive for competency. Most people do better with assignments when they know what will be expected of them at the end. You students, and their parents, will also more fully buy into the teaching and assessment process if they feel "in the loop" on how it will go.

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Administer the Assessment

After you have delivered the lesson plan to your students, it's time to give the assignment and wait for their work to be submitted for grading.

If this lesson and assignment were part of a team effort (i.e. across your grade level team), you can gather together with your colleagues and grade the papers together. Often it is helpful to have another set of eyes and ears to to assist you in getting comfortable with a new rubric.

Additionally, you can arrange for each paper to be graded by two different teachers. Then the scores can be averaged or added together. This serves to corroborate the score and reinforce its meaning.