HOT TOPIC: Rubrics
Volume 1, Issue 17 - January 16, 2005
"With the push for authentic assessment over the last quarter century, the rubric has taken its place as a useful tool in quantifying and qualifying student mastery of skills and concepts. The rubric gives teachers permission to pursue assessments beyond pencil and paper tests without the concern of being totally subjective in their observation of student work. As the instruction/assessment has evolved, rubrics have not only served as an assessment tool, but as a useful way to evaluate the effectiveness of one’s own instruction. This is true because rubrics force us to break down our teaching into observable, measurable components which should align nicely with our curriculum and its objectives.
The front end work on building a rubric from scratch can be time consuming, but once it is constructed and tested in the classroom it can be used over and over again. This adaptability and flexibility make rubrics attractive to busy teachers. While a rubric is always a work in progress, being adjusted and modified as needed, a good rubric has a certain steadfastness about it which stands the test of time.
All this having been said, rubrics can be a mystery to the uninitiated. A rubric is not a checklist, nor is it simply a grading scale. A rubric is a matrix of criteria, degrees of success and exemplars which combine to form a powerful snapshot of student learning; a cross-section of what a student knows and how well he or she can apply it ion a practical, real-world situation. Because these three elements combine to form a successful rubric, it is critical that the design of the rubric is sound, sequenced and tightly aligned. In ensuring this quality of design, you not only set standards to reach, you establish guidelines on how to reach them. A good rubric is not just an assessment tool; it’s a road map to success.
For many of you, rubrics are not a new idea. But how many teachers do you know actually have developed a rich cache of rubrics for instruction? There is still much work to be done to help teachers not only embrace the concept of rubric assessment, but effectively implement it in their classroom instruction routine. The weight of standardized testing on education only makes it that much more difficult to give rubrics their due. But I believe such testing is our best argument for pursuing authentic assessment vigorously. This week’s Digital Dozen offers ideas and resources to support you in this worthy work. ….."
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