Creating a good rubric is challenging. Madeline Marcotte in her article, “Building a Better Mouse Trap: The Rubric Debate” gives a thoughtful overview of the pros and cons about rubrics and outlines some features of good rubrics.
Criteria for a good rubric in Chicago Public schools¬† adapted from Herman, Aschbacher and Winters (1992), Arter (1990), and ISBE (1994):
Does the rubric relate to the outcome(s) being measured? Does it address anything extraneous? [‚Ä¶] Does it cover important dimensions of student performance? Do the criteria reflect current conceptions of excellence in the field? [‚Ä¶] Are the dimensions and scales well defined? [‚Ä¶] Is there a clear basis for assigning scores at each scale point? [‚Ä¶] Can different scorers consistently apply the rubric? [‚Ä¶] Can students and parents understand the rubric? [‚Ä¶] Is the rubric developmentally appropriate? [‚Ä¶] Can the rubric be applied to a variety of tasks? [‚Ä¶] Is the rubric fair and free from bias? Does it reflect teachable skills or does it address variables over which students and educators have no control, such as the student‚Äôs culture, gender or home resources? [‚Ä¶] Is the rubric useful, feasible, manageable and practical? [‚Ä¶] Will it provide the kind of information you need and can use effectively?
Giselle Martin-Kneip in her article, ‚ÄúStandards, Feedback, And Diversified Assessment: Addressing Equity Issues At the Classroom Level,‚Äù lists a number of criteria that she values. Among them are these two: ‚ÄúIs the assessment responsive to what we know about how [students] learn?‚Äù and ‚ÄúDoes the assessment help students become the kinds of [citizens] we want them to be?‚Äù
Barbara Moskal in her article, ‚ÄúScoring Rubrics: What, When, and How?‚Äù insists that rubrics should be non-judgmental: ‚ÄúEach score category should be defined using description of the work rather than judgments about the work.‚Äù For example, ‚Äúsentence structure follows current conventions‚Äù would be better than ‚Äúsentence structure is good.‚Äù
From Educational Leadership:¬†Special Topic / What’s Wrong‚Äîand What’s Right‚Äîwith Rubrics,¬†W. James Popham.¬†”Rubrics have the potential to make enormous contributions to instructional quality‚Äîbut first we have to correct the flaws that make many rubrics almost worthless…What are rubrics, and where did they come from? What is an educationally appropriate role for rubrics? Why do so many current rubrics fail to live up to their promise as guides for both teachers and students? What should we do to make rubrics better?” says Mr. Popham
So what are the things we should keep in mind when making a rubric?
“The more quickly we abandon both task-specific and excessively general rubrics, the more likely we will come up with rubrics that actually enhance instruction. In addition, for routine use, relatively short rubrics must be the rule. If we want teachers to focus their instructional attention on the evaluative criteria embedded in rubrics, rarely should a rubric exceed one or two pages. With any rubric intended for classroom use, a sheaf of papers held by a staple should be regarded as an enemy.”
From Alfie Kohn: “The Trouble with Rubrics”, ENGLISH JOURNAL, March 2006 — vol. 95, no. 4
“Studies have shown that too much attention to the quality of one‚Äôs performance is associated with more superficial thinking, less interest in whatever one is doing, less perseverance in the face of failure, and a tendency to attribute the outcome to innate ability and other factors thought to be beyond one‚Äôs control.¬† To that extent, more detailed and frequent evaluations of a student‚Äôs accomplishments may be downright counterproductive.”
“What all this means is that improving the design of rubrics, or inventing our own, won‚Äôt solve the problem because the problem is inherent to the very idea of rubrics and the goals they serve. ¬† This is a theme sounded by Maja Wilson in her extraordinary new book,¬†Rethinking Rubrics in Writing Assessment.¬† In boiling ‚Äúa messy process down to 4-6 rows of nice, neat, organized little boxes,‚Äù she argues, assessment is ‚Äústripped of the complexity that breathes life into good writing.‚Äù ¬†High scores on a list of criteria for excellence in essay writing do not mean that the essay is any good because quality is more than the sum of its rubricized parts.¬† To think about quality, Wilson argues, ‚Äúwe need to look to the piece of writing itself to suggest its own evaluative criteria‚Äù ‚Äì a truly radical and provocative suggestion.
What‚Äôs our¬†reason¬†for trying to evaluate the quality of students‚Äô efforts?¬† It matters whether the objective is to (1) rank kids against one another, (2) provide an extrinsic inducement for them to try harder, or (3) offer feedback that will help them become more adept at, and excited about, what they‚Äôre doing.¬† Devising more efficient rating techniques ‚Äì and imparting a scientific luster to those ratings ‚Äì may make it even easier to avoid asking this question.¬† In any case, it‚Äôs certainly not going to shift our rationale away from (1) or (2) and toward (3).
Neither we nor our assessment strategies can be simultaneously devoted to helping all students improve¬†and¬†to sorting them into winners and losers.¬† That‚Äôs why we have to do more than reconsider rubrics.¬† We have to reassess the whole enterprise of assessment, the goal being to make sure it‚Äôs consistent with the reason we decided to go into teaching in the first place.
“This essay uses the mode of questioning to create a dialogue about the
discursive, rhetorical, and even physical postures that educators and scholars might embrace when re-imagining¬†everyday practices of teaching, learning, and research to be open to unexpected trajectories. Questions are¬†woven together with descriptive vignettes of films, excerpts from research studies, personal narratives, and¬†reflective analyses that invoke texts from a wide range of scholarly traditions in order to propose unknowing as a¬†stance through which to engage more fully with and be responsive to a changing world.
Conclusions/Recommendations:¬†Unknowing is proffered as a stance and a lens through which to¬†practices associated with educational practice and research to be more open to new ways of knowing. Rather¬†than offering definitive recommendations, this essay concludes with an invitation for the broader educational¬†community, and especially institutions of education, to reclaim an ethos of inquiry and possibility in the daily
acts of seeing, being, becoming, belonging, and storying through which knowing and knowledge are enacted.”