Tips For Effective Rubric Design
– Rubrics are hard to design.
– Rubrics are time-consuming to design.
– How to design a ―good‖ rubric
Bottom line: Is it working for you and for your students?
HOLISTIC—views product or performance as a whole;
describes characteristics of different levels of
performance. Criteria are summarized for each
(performance level=degree of success -- e.g., 4,3,2,1)
(criteria= what counts, facets of performance—e.g.,
research or presentation)
Holistic versus Analytic?
HOLISTIC—pros and cons
+Takes less time to create.
+Effectively determines a ―not fully developed‖
performance as a whole
+Efficient for large group scoring; less time to assess
- Not diagnostic – limitations. If our goal is to give
students feedback on performance, the more
specific, the better.
- Student may exhibit traits at two or more levels at the
Analytic = performance is judged separately for
each criterion. Teachers assess how well
students meet a criterion on a task,
distinguishing between work that effectively
meets the criterion and work that does not meet
Example: English (persuasive writing)
Facets scored separately: meaning, argumentation
development, organization, language, conventions
Analytic versus Holistic?
Analytic—pros and cons
+Sharper focus on target
-Time consuming to articulate components and
to find language clear enough to define
performance levels effectively
Sample Of Analytic Rubric
Create rubrics that could be used for a
variety of purposes (don’t be too task specific).
– If you’re going to invest the effort necessary to
make a good rubric, be sure that you can use it in
a range of situations.
– Make a template that could be used for a variety
of products and performances. Adjust
Use generic or ―canned‖ rubrics with careful
consideration of their quality and
appropriateness for your project.
- These are your students, not someone else’s.
- Your students have received your instruction.
- Key word = adapt.
– Abbreviated rubrics can still capture the key evaluative
criteria needed to judge students’ responses.
– Educational jargon limits clarity.
– Descriptors such as ―inadequate‖ and ―averageness‖,
although concise, do not contribute to clarity.
– The lowest performance level should describe what a
novice, not ―bad‖ performance looks like.
Limit the number of performance levels so that one criterion can
be distinguished from another (emerging versus proficient)
– PSD district-established performance levels
Start by visualizing what an exemplary product or performance
―looks like‖. Regardless of whether or not students can perform
at exemplary levels, the rubric must be built from a picture
of excellence to establish a valid target and anchor for
Tips #5 and #6
Use key, teachable ―criteria‖ (what counts)
– Clearly define levels of quality.
– Concrete versus abstract
Organization: sharply focused thesis, topic sentences
clearly connected to thesis, logical ordering of
paragraphs, conclusion ends with a clincher.
―inventive‖ ―creative‖ ―imaginative‖ UNLESS…
Key Question to ask yourself: What does performance look like?
Tips #5 and #6
Use measurable criteria
--Specify/list what quality or absence looks like
vs. comparatives (―not as thorough as‖)
or value language (―excellent content‖)
Consider using ―I‖ in the descriptors
I followed precisely—consistently—inconsistently—MLA
I did not follow MLA documentation format.
Idea…include students in creating or
Motivate students to use rubric.
Do they understand the criteria and
descriptors used? How do you know?
Students should have the rubric at the
beginning of the unit.
Models (anchors) of the different
performance levels should be selected and
provided for students.
Make sure that you use 2-3 different
samples of excellence so as not to limit
your or your students’ thinking about possible
excellence. The goal is not to limit
performance or creativity but to make clear
what performances must be, no matter how
diverse, to be excellent.
Using Rubrics to Monitor Progress
Rubrics should be used as a formative
assessment to give students feedback about
how they are doing in addition to being used
to assess the culminating project.
Can be used to….
– Isolate a particularly challenging aspect
– Have student isolate an area of difficulty
– Center revision instruction around rubric
Steps in Developing a Rubric
1. Use the district established criteria for the learning target to be
2. Starting with what an exemplary product or performance looks
like (visualize student performance at each level of the rubric)
write a definition or make a list of concrete descriptors -
identifiable - for each criterion.
3. The criteria derive from the achievement target: if the aim is
―effective writing,‖ then the criteria might be engaging,
mindful of audience, clear, focused, effective voice, etc.
4. Develop a continuum for describing the range of performance
for each criterion.
5. Teachers keep track of strengths and weaknesses of rubric as
they use it to assess student work and then revise accordingly.
Sentence Stem Tool
To establish 4 levels of performance, try sentence stems.
Yes, I used surface texture and deep carvings
effectively to create individualizing detail.
Yes, I used surface texture and deep carvings, but I
needed to include more for individualizing detail.
No, I did not use surface texture, but I did use deep
carvings –or vice, versa—to create some
No, I did not use surface texture or deep carvings.
It’s hard work…
Expect to revise…and revise…
– One problem is that the rubric must cover all potential
performances; each should fit somewhere on the rubric.
―There are no final versions, only drafts and
When you’ve got a good one, SHARE IT!
The Best Rubrics
Analytic and holistic
―Generalizable‖ and specific
The best rubrics WORK
for students and teachers!
Andrade, Heidi Goodrich. ―Using Rubrics to Promote Thinking and Learning.‖
ASCD. Feb. 2000
Baggio, Christine. ―Designing Rubrics: Revising Instruction and Improving
Performance.‖ PowerPoint presentation. www.edutech.org.br.
Benjamin, Amy. An English Teacher’s Guide to Performance Tasks and
Rubrics. Larchmont: Eye on Education, 2000.
Classroom. Assessment Framework, Grades 4-8. PDE, Fall 2002.
Leavell, Alexandra. ―Authentic Assessment: Using Rubrics to Evaluate Project-
Based Learning.‖ PowerPoint. WEBLIBRARY.
Matthews, Jay. ―Writing by the Rules No Easy Task.‖
Simkins, Michael. ―Designing Great Rubrics.‖ Technology and Learning. August
Wiggins, Grant and Jay McTighe. ―Tips for Developing Effective Rubrics.‖
Understanding by Design. ASCD,1998.