Make Room for Rubrics
Rubrics are receiving high marks from teachers around the country. Heres how to use these scoring devices for authentic assessment.
By Mary Rose
Exactly how can teachers determine whether a students piece of writing meets the standard of exceptional versus that of good? How can a childs science project, which may involve drawing, writing, dioramas, oral presentation, and other elements, be accurately evaluated? How can subtle, gradual progress in the development of speaking skills be measured? One increasingly popular method is rubrics a type of scoring guide used to assess more complex, subjective criteria. Rubrics enable an evaluation of student performance in situations that more closely replicate the challenges of real life than isolated tests. As such, they support the mandate for authentic assessment stated in national standards across the curriculum.
A rubric is a device
for organizing and interpreting data gathered from observations of student
performance. More precisely, it is a scoring guide that differentiates
between levels of development in a specific area of performance or behavior.
Conventional rubrics, such as the Science Journal Rubric pictured opposite,
use a range of three or more levels to assess performance for example,
from beginning to developing to proficient. Each of the levels contains
specific, measurable performance characteristics, such as makes
few/occasional/frequent spelling errors. Checklists, which provide
specific steps for completing tasks to the highest level of quality, such
as the Student Rubric, opposite, are another form of rubric. Combination
rubrics incorporate aspects of both.
When shared with children before a project or an assignment, rubrics can be powerful motivational tools. If students are given the chance to contribute to the content of a rubric, then it is much easier to hold them to its standards, says Charlotte Sassman, a kindergarten teacher at the Alice Carlson Applied Learning Center in Fort Worth, Texas. Rather than directing youngsters toward past performance (Why did I get a B instead of an A?), rubrics can teach them to focus on current and future performance (What steps can I take to progress to the next level?).
Student rubrics used
for self-assessment, such as How Good Is My Book Cover?, pictured
above, encourage learners to participate in the grading process. Kara
Staunton, a seventh-grade teacher at Reid Middle School in Pittsfield,
Massachusetts, finds that the students like feeling as if they have
a voice. And surprisingly, they are harder graders than I am!
For best results,
design your own all-purpose rubric template, or frame, that can be adapted
for different projects. Base your template on the Teacher Rubric above,
filling in criteria that apply to your subject area and the elements you
need to evaluate. Know the specific skills that you want students to develop
throughout the activity. Describe the criteria that reflect the highest
level of performance. And vary your descriptions of accuracy, completion,
consistency, quality, and other factors to signify performance levels.
Good resources for building your own rubric can be found online at Servtech
(www.servtech.com/~germaine/rubric.html) and Ask Dr. Rubric (www.classnj.org/IDEA/).
Mary Rose, M.A., is a fourth-grade teacher at Lake Sybelia Elementary School, Orange County, Florida.