In my last post,  I discussed the need for unpacking the standards and rewriting them in clear, easy-to-understand “I can…” statements.  When approaching the standards based grading process, defining the standards in this way is an obvious first step.

After I finished writing my standards last summer as I was preparing to implement standards based grading, I went right into writing assessments.  At the time, I thought that it made more sense to write individual rubrics for each assignment that would reflect the intent and objective of that assignment.  However, it didn’t take me long to realize that this was a big mistake for a number of reasons.

  1. Writing unique rubrics for each individual assignment is extremely time consuming and difficult from a consistency standpoint.
  2. Students don’t have a consistent set of criteria to focus on.  Instead of being rock solid standards to focus on for students, the standards become slippery and changing.  Students need a target that doesn’t move.
  3. Data tracking is inconsistent because the criteria for creating that data is inconsistent.

So, to remedy that mistake, I created a master rubric for my standards that establishes a set of criteria for evaluating student mastery.  In approaching this task, I looked at the relationship between mastery and interventions.  Students who are performing at grade level mastery don’t require the same interventions as students who are performing well below that level.  In order to be consistent with that reasoning, I decided to use a four-point rubric that corresponds with the RTI model of interventions.

On my four-point scale, a 3 (Proficient) represents grade level proficiency or my tier 1 intervention group that is performing at the level of whole class instruction.  A 2 (Approaching) represents the tier 2 students who can improve their performance through group interventions and activities.  A 1 (Emerging) represents my tier 3 students who need more targeted, one-on-one interventions to reach proficiency.

Thinking of a rubric with this correlation, makes hammering out the criteria much easier.  I first think what grade level proficiency looks like, and I describe it in simple, concrete language.  A 3 represents the level I want all students performing at when they leave my classroom.  Then, I think of what aspects of proficiency could be remedied through group instruction if they were missing, and I describe that in the same simple language.  Finally, I describe what performance would look like of a student who requires one-on-one help to reach the level of performance that I want.

After establishing levels 1-3 on my rubric, I examine what extensions or higher levels could be reached by students who are performing above my baseline proficiency level.  I describe these extensions in a fourth level: 4 (Advanced).  Once I have completed my descriptions for that level, my rubric for that standard is complete.

In order to help others in writing rubrics, I have created a template in a Google Spreadsheet.  In that template, you should type an index (some number or letter-number combination for identifying the standard), the standard itself, and your descriptions for each level of mastery.  By putting the master rubric in a Google Spreadsheet, it will allow you to use the rubric as a database for assignment rubrics that must be created later.  I will demonstrate that process in my next post.

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