A rubric is an assessment tool that has a variety of uses. One of its primary benefits is the breaking down of a task or assignment into identifiable pieces. For example, the writing rubric used at Norman Howard, which is based on the State Education Department writing rubrics, identifies five qualities to any written piece. They are:
- Meaning – does the piece exhibit an understanding, interpretation, and analysis of the task
- Development – does the piece elaborate with details
- Organization – does the piece have a direction, shape, and coherence
- Language use – does the piece demonstrate an awareness of audience and purpose
- Conventions of Standard English – does the piece contain any errors in grammar, sentence structure, spelling, capitalization, punctuation, or paragraphing
- Level of Independence – to what extent did the writer independently complete the task
Another important use of a rubric is the setting of levels along a continuum or scale for the purpose of identifying a student’s effectiveness within each quality of a written piece as described above. The NHS writing rubric uses a six-point scale, again based on the State rubrics, for identifying student progress along the writing quality continuum. Thus, student written work is evaluated with a task specific version of the base rubric.
It is important that students understand the rubric and its connection to the evaluation of their writing.