A rubric is a plan, usually a graph or chart, that defines exactly what the expectations are for an assignment. A rubric helps to transform more subjective expectations into specific expectations. Students can use a rubric when doing assignments to help guide their content and performance and teachers can use a rubric to help make grading easier and less subjective. If a rubric was used, students should not have to ask "why" they received a particular grade and teachers will have an easy breakdown of the grade if that question is asked. Additionally, it gives more information to students and parents than just whether a math problem was right or wrong or whether a paper was written well or if a science experiment was successful.
Define all of the objectives for an assignment. For example, a math assignment could have objectives such as setting up words problems correctly, computation and checking of work. A written assignment could have objectives related to content, structure and flow, grammar and punctuation.
Arrange the list of objectives in order of importance. Usually not all expectations will be given equal weight in a grade. Ordering them will help to decide which ones will be given priority in the grading process and carry more weight. The objectives will be written in a column along the left side of a paper.
Under each objective, list each of the specific criteria for that objective. For example, one objective could be showing appropriate punctuation in a written assignment. The criteria under that objective could be the use of capitalization, use of commas and so forth. In a math class, the computation could be broken down into borrowing, carrying and the like.
Assign a specific percentage of the grade or number of points to each objective. For example, if students are writing a paper for a science class, the content in the paper might be given more weight than the punctuation. In a math class, a teacher might grade evenly on each of several criteria, such as setting up the problems correctly, computation and the final answer.
Use a scale for rating each objective to make grading easier. List the scale along the top of the paper along with the criteria for each point on the scale. This could be a Likert-type scale in which each criteria is rated form 1 to 5. A rating also could be "poor," adequate," "good" and "excellent." For example, on a writing assignment, the "poor" column for punctuation could be for not using any at all or making more than a certain number of mistakes, and it could be worth no points. On the other hand, the "excellent" column could be for having no mistakes with capitalization, end marks, commas and so forth, and would get all of the points for that criteria. Being specific makes grading much easier and ensures that all students are graded evenly.
Save copies of each rubric you make. After you have made one, you can modify it but you should never have to make one from scratch again. Create a file for the rubrics so they can be pulled when needed.
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