There’s a definition for rubric that Merriam-Webster doesn’t know about yet.

I first came across the word “rubric” in 4th year high school Spanish. Actually it was more like rubrica (from Latin rubrica, from rubr-, ruber red), and meant the flourish Hispanics add to a signature. In English rubric means a classification, custom, or the heading of a manuscript that appears in red letters, and now it means something else.

If you google “rubric” you will come up with page after page of do it yourself educational scoring systems, like this rubric tool from the Utah education network. I also found out here that in one school  “the district’s curriculum leaders imagine a day when most teachers will routinely tie their lessons to standards and create or adapt rubrics and guides that allow both students and teachers to measure progress toward reaching them,”  and that “most still rely on ‘generic’ rubrics that can be used as a general guide to writing assignments, oral presentations, or math problems. Some teachers say they don’t have time to create rubrics or scoring guides for specific assignments, projects or units.” Imagine that.  The University of Minnesota, describing how to create a rubric, adds the advice that “rubrics need to be piloted or field tested.” Next semester my class will be piloting such a rubric that has been created from two or three years of curriculum committee meetings.

It sounds good, teaching to standards, involving the students in the process.  Like everything else, the devil is probably in the details.

One thing I have already noticed.  The skills list is binary, that is, the students either know the concepts or they don’t–there’s no gray area, as in Bloom’s taxonomy.

Another thing, I don’t have an evaluation tool yet.  I may have to create one.

4 3 2 1
Task requirements All Most Some Very few or none
Frequency Always Usually Some of the time Rarely or not at all
Accuracy No errors Few errors Some errors Frequent errors
Comprehensibility Always comprehensible Almost always comprehensible Gist and main ideas are comprehensible Isolated bits are comprehensible
Content coverage Fully developed, fully supported Adequately developed, adequately supported Partially developed, partially supported Minimally developed, minimally supported




Highly varied; non-repetitive


Varied; occasionally repetitive


Lacks variety; repetitive

Very limited

Basic, memorized; highly repetitive

(above: “How to create a rubric” from the U of M)

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