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Using Rubrics in your Classroom for Better Student Success

written by: Lenzi Hart • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 9/11/2012

Rubrics are a wonderful tool for accurate and fair grading. Having students create their own rubrics for projects or writing assignments gives them ownership in their success.

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    Rubrics Ensure Fairness

    Teachers, for the most part, strive to be fair. In our grading, in or treatment of students, and in our classroom management policies, fairness is our ultimate goal. However, when it comes to projects and writing assignments, the answers are not always black and white. Rubrics are an essential tool that can ensure fair grading standards for every student and assignment.

    What are rubrics? Rubrics are grading tools that re developed by teachers to explain (in explicit detail) the criteria required on a project or any other assignment that involves many steps or elements. Rubrics are broken down into small, manageable categories for the student to complete, and each category is assigned a point value. The points awarded in each category are added together to comprise the student's final grade. Rubrics can be simple and short, or can have many categories, depending on the assignment's complexity. Go to http://rubistar.4teachers.org/index.php and check out the many free templates of rubrics this site offers, and you will see the many ways a rubric can be manipulated to fit the assessment needs of your assignment.

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    Rubrics Promote Superior Performance

    Many of us perform better when we know what is expected of us. If you give students a copy of the rubric before they begin the project or assignment, they will have a blueprint for success! Knowing ahead of time what they need to do to earn an "A" will take the guess work out for students. Students can't read a teacher's mind, and veteran teachers know all too well that students don't always listen to verbal directions to assignments. Having a written grading guideline and expectation list will guarantee that all students know what is expected of them, and will also illustrate to disgruntled parents that their child did, indeed, earn the grade he received!

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    Rubrics Empower Students

    Rubrics can also empower students to be masters of their own success when you enlist them to create their own assignment rubric. When students create the standards for their projects, they allow themselves to evaluate both the good and the bad of their expected performance.

    Break students into groups and provide them with the criteria expected to complete the assignment, but have them brainstorm what constitutes failing, passing, and excellent performance for each standard. Assigning a traditional point scale is also effective, or you can keep it simple by using a four star grading system. (One star being a failing grade and four being excellent.) Students can then convene as a class and decide which criteria they will apply to each standard, and then the teacher will create a master rubric that meets the classes agreed-upon suggestions. Putting the assessment tools in the students hands before you grade, and having them be a part of the expectation standards gives them a sense of power and importance. This personal investment in an assignment may be what enables a student to reach their full potential on a project.