Resources for Educators

Teaching Tip

From the Teacher’s Aide Newsletter

2017 November

Rubrics – A Quick Overview

We often get questions from teachers on how to create good rubrics or how to use them effectively. So, let’s talk a bit about rubrics.

Rubrics need to be descriptive. The problem is, they are usually written with evaluation in mind. Of course, you will use them to evaluate your students, but if you focus on describing the performance criteria clearly, then the assessment part is easy.

First, you need a list of the skills and abilities that you expect your students to demonstrate in the assessment. Include subcategories to allow for more descriptions of performance. Then, for each category and subcategory, define what evidences that skill or ability at each level of performance. How would an average student demonstrate that skill or ability? How would an above average student demonstrate that skill or ability? And how would a below-average student demonstrate that they still have some work to do? You need a separate description for each level of performance.

Important: Use your own language. It is confusing to students if you lecture and demonstrate in your voice, but your rubrics and assessments are written in a more textbook-style, or worse, someone else’s language altogether. Use the same terminology that your students have heard you use in the classroom all along.

When you use the rubric to evaluate your students, take notes. When necessary, explain (in writing) why your observation led you to choose one performance level over another. These notes are often more important to the students success than their final grade on the assessment.

Super Important: Use the rubrics to evaluate yourself too! When you see a pattern of low performance in a large number of your students for a particular skill or ability, re-evaluate your own teaching methods. Maybe they aren’t getting it because you could be delivering that material in a different (and more effective) way.