How to Create and Use Rubrics for Formative Assessment and Grading

How to Create and Use Rubrics for Formative Assessment and Grading

How to Create and Use Rubrics for Formative Assessment and Grading

How to Create and Use Rubrics for Formative Assessment and Grading


What is a rubric? A rubric is a coherent set of criteria for student work that describes levels of performance quality. Sounds simple enough, right? Unfortunately, rubrics are commonly misunderstood and misused.

The good news is that when rubrics are created and used correctly, they are strong tools that support and enhance classroom instruction and student learning. In this comprehensive guide, author Susan M. Brookhart identifies two essential components of effective rubrics: (1) criteria that relate to the learning (not the "tasks") that students are being asked to demonstrate and (2) clear descriptions of performance across a continuum of quality. She outlines the difference between various kinds of rubrics (for example, general versus task-specific, and analytic versus holistic), explains when using each type of rubric is appropriate, and highlights examples from all grade levels and assorted content areas. In addition, Brookhart addresses

• Common misconceptions about rubrics;

• Important differences between rubrics and other assessment tools such as checklists and rating scales, and when such alternatives can be useful; and

• How to use rubrics for formative assessment and grading, including standards-based grading and report card grades.

Intended for educators who are already familiar with rubrics as well as those who are not, this book is a complete resource for writing effective rubrics and for choosing wisely from among the many rubrics that are available on the Internet and from other sources. And it makes the case that rubrics, when used appropriately, can improve outcomes by helping teachers teach and helping students learn.


The purpose of this book, as the title suggests, is to help you use rubrics in the classroom. To do that, two criteria must be met. First, the rubrics themselves must be well designed. Second, the rubrics should be used for learning as well as for grading.

Many of you are already familiar with rubrics, and you will read this book through the lens of what you already know. For some, the book will be an affirmation of your current understanding of rubrics and provide (I hope) some additional suggestions and examples. But for others, the book may challenge your currently held views and practices regarding rubrics and call for some change.

So I wrote this book with some apprehension. It’s always a challenge to “come in in the middle” of something. Teachers do that all the time, however. I ask all of you to keep an open mind and to constantly ask yourself, “What do I think about this?” To that end, I have included self-reflection questions along the way. I encourage you to think about them, perhaps keeping a journal of these reflections so you can review and consolidate your own learning at the end.

In some ways, this book is two books in one, and for that reason it is divided into Part I and Part II. Part I is about rubrics themselves: what they are, how to write them, and some examples of different kinds of rubrics. Part II is about how to use rubrics in your teaching.

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