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					Tips For Effective Rubric Design
Expert Input

Experts agree
  –   Rubrics are hard to design.
  –   Rubrics are time-consuming to design.

Experts disagree
  –   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
  score level.

(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
  same time.
Holistic Example

   WASL Rubric

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
+Specific feedback
+Instructional emphasis
-Time consuming to articulate components and
  to find language clear enough to define
  performance levels effectively
Sample Of Analytic Rubric
Tip #1

   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
Tip #2

   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.
Tip #3

   Be concise.
    –   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.
Tip #4

   Limit the number of performance levels so that one criterion can
    be distinguished from another (emerging versus proficient)
      – PSD district-established performance levels
           Not observed
           Emerging
           Proficient
           Accomplished
           Exemplary
   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‖)
Tip #7

   Consider using ―I‖ in the descriptors
          I followed precisely—consistently—inconsistently—MLA
           documentation format.
          I did not follow MLA documentation format.
   Idea…include students in creating or
    adapting rubrics
Tip #8

   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.
Tip #9

   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
    individualizing detail.
   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
   Developmental
   ―Generalizable‖ and specific
   Instructional

The best rubrics WORK
                 for students and teachers!
Works Cited/Consulted
   Andrade, Heidi Goodrich. ―Using Rubrics to Promote Thinking and Learning.‖
    ASCD. Feb. 2000
   Baggio, Christine. ―Designing Rubrics: Revising Instruction and Improving
    Performance.‖ PowerPoint presentation.
   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.

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