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To rubric or not to rubric?

Hello colleagues, Have you ever heard it said about assessment that we teachers need to "make the evaluation criteria visible"?  This concept resonates with me as I think about the many experiences I've had in school when I was left wondering how a project or a writing assignment would be graded by a particular teacher. Very often I had no idea.

Making the evaluation criteria visible before students complete an assignment is usually very helpful. A useful tool that can help us to do that is a rubric.

In a recent blog, Sarah Wike Loyola outlines Five Tips for a More Meaningful Rubric.

Loyola suggests the following benefits for using rubrics:

  • setting clear guidelines and expectations from the beginning.
  • holding students accountable for the work they produce in a justifiable way.
  • letting students know on which areas they need to concentrate the next time they are given a similar task.
  • seeing improvement in students’ work

How have you used rubrics in your teaching? Do you agree with the above benefits? What drawbacks, if any, might there be?

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, Assessment



Joan Scruggs's picture

This is a great blog, and so true! I love the idea to have students evaluate a sample assignment using the rubric that will be used to evaluate their work, and plan to do that in a class tomorrow.  I also have students use the rubric to evaluate their own writing, and then we compare and discuss the similarities and differences between our two assessments. It makes a good starting point for a focused conversation about student progress. 

Susan Finn Miller's picture
One hundred

Hi Joan and all, It is interesting to hear about your classroom, Joan. Thank you for sharing how you are using rubrics. One thing I really appreciate about what you wrote is that you have students assess themselves using the rubric and that you then talk together about the way you scored the student as well as how the student scored him or herself. I'm sure this leads to some great conversations.

If you have a moment, please tell us how this went with your most recent class.

What questions do members have for Joan? What questions do members have about using rubrics? Who can recommend a good source for rubrics online?

Looking forward to hearing more about rubrics!

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, Assessment CoP

Carol Bryant's picture

I would also like to learn about a great on-line rubric source.

Leecy's picture
One hundred

Carol, to access excellent instructions, examples, and resources related to rubrics, you will thoroughly enjoy the self-paced LINCS course, “Differentiated Learning and Lesson Planning Course.” To access the course, click on “Learning Portal” in the menu bar and select the course from the list. These courses are all free and provide you with a certificate upon completion.
Below are resources that are included in the course.
Rubric makers/templates:
    •    Reazon Systems, Inc. (2015) iRubric. Retrieved from
    • (2001-2011). Rubrics for Teachers. Retrieved from
    •    University of Kansas, Rubistar. (n.d.) Create a Rubric. Retrieved from (requires free registration)
Sample rubrics:
    •    For HiSET essay Writing Response Scoring Guide. (2015). Retrieved from
    •    For ESOL ESOL Writing 001. (2004). Retrieved from
    •    For Math Exemplars Standards-Based Math Rubric. (2014). Retrieved from

This course also covers formative and summative assessments in differentiating instruction, adding helpful differentiated lesson plans in math, science, and writing.

Susan Finn Miller's picture
One hundred

Hi Carol and all, Thanks to Leecy for recommending the LINCS Assessment course and highlighting some of the online rubric resources that are explored as part of the course.

Another amazing resource for rubrics is Kathy Shrock's site. On Shrock's site you will find ready-made rubrics for a wide range of purposes. There are rubrics that are aligned to the Common Core Standards, rubrics for digital storytelling, podcast rubrics, rubrics to evaluate presentations and team collaboration on projects, a rubric to evaluate the effectiveness of technology integration, a wide range of rubrics for writing and many more. The site includes other assessment tools, as well, such as checklists and self-assesments. You can even find a rubric to evaluate an instructional rubric!

In addition, the site features articles about how to design and use rubrics most effectively. Lots to explore at this site!

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, Assessment CoP