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Creating a Rubric

What is a rubric?

A rubric is an assessment tool that specifies the criteria for student work. For example, a rubric for a mathematical word problem might specify the following criteria:

  1. The work must be written clearly

  2. Each step in the calculation must be shown

  3. All necessary arithmetic must be shown

  4. The solution must be written clearly in a sentence at the bottom of the page.

Rubrics typically operate under a point system, with a sliding scale of credit relating to each of the criteria. For example, if the student in the above example solved the problem but failed to write the solution as specified in the fourth criterion, the student would lose credit.

Why use a rubric?

Rubrics are helpful for many reasons. Through the use of this tool, teachers can:

  • Leave less "gray area" for questions and dispute over grading.

  • Define the specific content that is being assessed.

  • Present students with clear objectives.

  • Facilitate students' self-monitoring.

  • Make the grading process more clear to outside observers (i.e. parents, administrators, etc.)

Why create my own rubrics?

Quite simply, I have never been satisfied with premade rubrics available in textbooks and teachers�uals. It will save a great deal of time and effort in the long run to create your own rubrics. You will be able to use the terminology with which your students are familiar and pinpoint the specific skills that you are trying to build. In fact, it can many times be beneficial to include students in the creation of the rubric.


How do I create a rubric?

You may use a district or state curriculum as the basis for your rubric; online rubric creators such as Rubistar and Teach-nology Rubric Maker can also be very helpful. Be sure to take into consideration any school or district policies regarding the creation of rubrics and clear your plan with your administrator. After you have established what content you wish to address, utilize the following steps to create your rubric:

  1. Determine the type of assessment that you will use.

  2. The type of assessment will depend on the academic subject, grade level, and student ability.  These assessments may include tests, quizzes, projects, term papers, etc.

  3. Create a short list of measurable dimensions that you wish to assess.

  4. Normally, rubrics in elementary schools are kept fairly short with no more than five specific criteria. While it is beneficial to keep the list short, middle school and high school students can be expected to handle up to ten dimensions. Be sure to focus on linking what the student are actually learning with what is being assessed.

  5. Assign a method of measuring each dimension.

  6. This can be accomplished through the use of a point system (i.e. a scale of 1 to 5). A similar system could involve verbal points (i.e. Needs Improvement-Satisfactory-Good-Excellent). Be sure to assign the criteria for each score. For example, to receive five points for the spelling criterion on an essay, the student may be required to have no spelling mistakes. Between one and three spelling mistakes may entitle a student to four points. From three to five spelling mistakes may entitle a student to three points ᮤ so on. In addition, rather than using a rating scale, some teachers may prefer to use a checklist that specifies the criteria for an assignment. In that case, a score is assessed by totaling the number of checks and applying that total to a predefined standard (i.e. having ten checks out of ten gives a score of 100%, having nine checks out of ten gives a score of 90%, etc.).

  7. Introduce the rubric to the class.

  8. As stated earlier, it can be quite beneficial to include students in the rubric-building process. If that is done, a lengthy explanation of the rubric may be avoided. In any event, discuss the merits of using the rubric, the specific dimensions that it will assess and any concerns that the students may have. Students may wish to go home and share the rubric with their parents.

  9. Evaluate the rubric.

Finally, try out the rubric with a test-run. Evaluate the results through scoring and class discussion. Were the dimensions specific enough? Were they overly specific? Were they manageable for the students? Was any part of the rubric unclear? After these questions are answered, make any final adjustments to the rubric.

You will notice, as you create more of your own rubrics, that it will become much easier. Students will grow to link learning with assessment and be able to monitor their own progress. Also, teachers will find it significantly more easy to grade assignments, especially more subjective assignments such as essays and open-ended questions.

Good Luck!


Last Updated on June 20, 2010

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