Great Classroom Rubrics

Rubrics are wonderful tools for defining quality for a process, product of behavior.  They are powerful tools for both teaching and learning as they help communicate what it takes to succeed.

Rubrics and Reliability
There is some concern that performance assessments do not allow teachers to gather reliable or repeatable results.  Great rubrics will increase the reliability of results because the can increases the consistency in grading between students as well as the consistency in grading between measurement points.  Much of this reliability lies in the tool itself as well as how it is implemented.

Rather than using rubrics with scoring based on subjective phrases such as “some of the time” or “most of the time” or “fair” or “good,” teachers should have rubrics with specific measurements that help everyone understand the difference between “some” and “most.”  Using detailed descriptions of performance at each level will help teachers to use the tool fairly, and in a repeatable fashion.  Teachers can also increase the reliability of their results by keeping student samples of exemplary work on file as examples and grading a shared sample together and discussing the results.

The issues of inter-rater reliability and intra-rater reliability must also be addressed.  Inter-rater reliability or consistency between multiple graders can be increased by having the team practice grading the same samples and keeping samples on file for reference in future sessions.  Intra-rater reliability or the consistency between a single grader over multiple students or multiple points in time may be even more important when using rubrics to measure student growth.  Saving samples and looking at those prior to starting a grading session will help to focus the grader, remind the grader of what expectations look like and help keep the use repeatable.

Rubric Design
A great rubric has row which list each criteria or essential skill that will be measured. This is not to list every possible skill that could be measured in this task, but the key and essential skills which need to be measured.  The columns should be the potential levels of performance ranging from ideal to not evident.

TIP: When writing the performance levels it is often easiest to start by describing ideal and work backwards.

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When designing the rubric, Our Classroom Rubric Guide will be helpful:

Rubrics for Growth
When using a rubric to measure student growth, the first baseline measurement must be comparable to the end of the year measurement.  Therefore the prompts or performances should be comparable and rubric must be used with end of year expectations consistently throughout the measurement interval to get comparable data.

Each prompt needs to be comparable in complexity and cognitive demand.  The tasks should ask students similar questions in similar amounts of time.  Thus the first prompt shouldn’t be to create a sketch in 10 min and the second prompt is a 2 week drawing project.  This will not allow comparable data as the two tasks are not comparable.

Additionally, the rubric should be used in the same fashion to grade the student work.  If the rubric is implemented with increasing expectations, there should be a factor by which results earlier can be multiplied to account for the increasing degree in difficulty.  This is unlikely an easy factor for teachers to obtain.  Thus, the recommendation to keep implementation practices consistent and get comparable data.

With that, comes the concern for the gradebook.  If grading toward end of year expectations early in the semester, it is OK to make a “full score” less than the highest rating on the rubric depending on what your expectation at that time might be.