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Tool Trend: Using Early Childhood Rubrics

written by: Olive Estrella Coronado • edited by: Jonathan Wylie • updated: 2/7/2013

Teachers and parents alike have been raving about rubrics for a long time now. But how do we use this evaluation tool in preschool classes? Read on to find out more about using early childhood rubrics. See an actual sample too!

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    The Rubric Rage: Describing the Importance of Rubrics

    Gone are the days when students were generally evaluated based on quantity alone. That is, the number of correct items against the wrong answers without regard for the content or kind of skill being assessed, the level of difficulty, and the consistency of answers. At present, rubrics are all the rage when it comes to evaluating the performance of students in school because this tool aims to describe the quality of their work. For example, instead of merely saying that a child received a score of five over ten in the recognition of shapes, a teacher can identify his level as satisfactory or emerging with a corresponding description that clearly states what he had exhibited during the test.

    Indeed using rubrics are more in tune with today’s fast-progressing trend of authentic assessment strategies. They are very useful for teachers because they make the process of evaluation quicker and easier since there are written skills and standards for reference. Rubrics also help us point out and explain to both students and parents why such a grade was given or how a grade can be improved.

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    The Effective Evaluation: Using Rubrics for Preschool

    Rubrics can be used in preschools to measure a child’s progress not only in academics but also in self-help and communication skills as well as in socio-emotional and sensory-motor development. To effectively evaluate a skill, the basic parameters include the quality of performance, the frequency, and the application to various situations. Keep these in mind when developing your rubrics.

    In making a rubric for preschoolers, always begin by listing the criteria you want to measure. For instance, in assessing a picture drawn by them, you may want to include the following:

    1. Use of Lines: Are there just scribbles with no pictures emerging? Are students able to put lines together to form a recognizable image?
    2. Images of People: Is the student able to draw a circle for a face? Are they able to assemble stick figures with other distinguishing characteristics such as hair and clothing?

    The next step is for you to decide what performance levels to use for your early childhood rubrics. Is it going to be excellent, very good, satisfactory, and needs improvement? Or would you rather use well-developed, progressing, emerging, and pre-conventional? It really depends on you. Just be sure to explain them to the students in the simplest way that you can and also to their parents. Some teachers prefer to simply use five stars, four stars, three stars, and so on. The important thing is to have specific descriptors for each level.

    Maximize the use of early childhood rubrics by creating one for every skill and performance that you wish to evaluate. In this way, you are able to monitor children’s progress and be able to take note of the exact items that they need to improve on. Get your kids involved too! Post some rubrics on the walls of the classroom, prepare them as worksheets for the students to accomplish, let them be brought home to be a guide even for their homework, use them for parent-teacher conferences as well as in coming up with your mid-year and year-end reports. Once you get the hang of it, you will find that they are just a breeze to make!

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    Sample Rubric

    An actual sample will help you see how a rubric is created, particularly what criteria to consider, the levels to use, and how to phrase the descriptions. See an actual sample of rubrics used to evaluate young children’s ability in drawing which you can use in your own classes.

    You may also try visiting www.uen.org/rubric to quickly make age-appropriate rubrics for your classes. Good luck!