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August 1, 2013
Vol. 55
No. 8

Guidelines for Creating Rubrics

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AssessmentInstructional Strategies
Bryan Goodwin and Elizabeth Ross Hubbell's new book The 12 Touchstones of Good Teaching: A Checklist for Staying Focused Every Day includes a chapter on how to clarify performance expectations for students. Rubrics are an essential tool for delineating the criteria that distinguishes between novice and mastery-level work. Here are a few brief guidelines Goodwin and Hubbell recommend for creating rubrics, as well as a list of online tools to support your work:
Identify the proficient level first. In a four-tier rubric, we recommend that teachers identify level 3 of the rubric first. This level is an acceptable score and shows proficiency at performing the task or understanding the content.
Build the rest of the rubric around proficiency. From this point, building the remainder of the rubric is fairly easy: a 1 shows minimal understanding or performance; a 2 shows some understanding/performance but with significant gaps; and a 4 shows an advanced level of understanding or performance.
Focus on growth. Finally, we recommend that if you use a 0 at all, it should state "Not enough evidence at this point to assess understanding." This way, even scoring at the lowest level of the rubric sends students the message that their level of performance can be improved.
Although rubrics are often associated with evaluating more subjective work, such as student essays, where teacher judgments may seem more arbitrary, identifying performance criteria is equally beneficial for students in more technical subjects such as mathematics or computer science.

Online Tools

Use this list of online resources to help you create performance criteria in your classroom:
Another resource teachers may find helpful is Jon Mueller's Authentic Assessment Toolbox. A professor of psychology at North Central College (IL) and author of Assessing Critical Skills, Mueller (2008) provides a number of resources to help teachers create, modify, or find high-quality rubrics. He also differentiates between analytic and holistic rubrics, giving guidance on when each is more helpful. Holistic rubrics can be used when a project is small or gross judgment is being made. Analytic rubrics—those that provide levels of various criteria—are used for more in-depth projects.
Source: Adapted from The 12 Touchstones of Good Teaching: A Checklist for Staying Focused Every Day, by Bryan Goodwin and Elizabeth Ross Hubbell, copyright McREL, 2013.

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