What are rubrics?

Rubrics are vehicles that can provide a useful mechanism to translate achievement into assessment terms. A rubric is a rating scale that consists of ordered categories, together with descriptions of criteria that may include examples, which are used to sort student-produced responses into levels of achievement (Schafer et al., 2001). According to Andrade (2000) a rubric is usually a one-or two-page document that describes varying levels of quality, from excellent to poor, for a specific assignment. The purpose of a rubric is to give students informative feedback about their works in progress and to give detailed evaluations of their final products. Although the format of a rubric can vary, they all have the following two features in common: (1) a list of criteria, or "what counts" in a project or assignment; and (2) graduations of quality, with descriptions of strong, middling, and problematic student work. 

What are the different types of rubrics?

Rubrics can either be analytic or holistic. An analytic rubric is more process oriented in that it separates pieces of an activity individually and then adds all scores for a total rating. A holistic rubric is used to rate an activity in its entirety without regard to the separate pieces. A holistic rubric is more product oriented and is used when the components of an activity are too interrelated for easy division (Jackson & Larkin, 2002). 

How can rubrics benefit your students, including those with special needs?

  • Students know before beginning an assignment what the expectations for performance will be. The expectations may be assigned by the teachers or may be determined through class discussions.
  • Students monitor their own progress as the assignment progresses.
  • Students become aware of the quality of work through judging their own and their peer's assignments against the standards set in the rubric.
  • Students use the rubric as a final checkpoint before turning in the assignment.
  • Students with special needs have the rubric tailored to their learning styles. (Jackson & Larkin, 2002)

How do you create your own rubrics?

To be an effective learning tool, the rubric design process should engage students in the following steps:

  1. Look at models: Show students examples of good and not-so-good work. Identify the characteristics that make the good ones good and the bad ones bad.
  2. List criteria: Use the discussion of models to begin a list of what counts in quality work.
  3. Articulate gradations of quality: Describe the best and worst levels of quality, then fill in the middle levels based on your knowledge of common problems and the discussion of not-so-good work.
  4. Practice on models: Have students use the rubrics to evaluate the models you gave them in Step 1.
  5. Use self- and peer-assessment: Give students their assignment. As they work, stop them occasionally for self- and peer-assessment.
  6. Revise: Always give students time to revise their work based on the feedback they get in Step 5.
  7. Use teacher assessment: Use the same rubric students used to assess their work yourself.
    (Goodrich, 1997)

Where can you find more information about rubrics?

Research Articles

Schafer, W. D., Swanson, G., Bene, N. & Newberry, G.
(2001). Effects of teacher knowledge of rubrics
on student achievement in four content areas. 
Applied measurement in Education, 14(2), 151-170.

Descriptive Articles

Andrade, H. G. (2000). Using rubrics to promote
thinking and learning. Educational Leadership,
57(5) 13-18. 
Goodrich, H. (1997). Understanding rubrics. Educational
Leadership, 54(4), 14-17. 
Jackson, C. W. & Larkin, M.J. (2002). Teaching
students to use grading rubrics. Teaching 
Exceptional Children, 35(1), 40-45. 
King-Sears, M. E. (2001). Three steps for gaining
access to the general education curriculum for 
learners with disabilities. Intervention in School
& Clinic, 37(2), 67-76. 
Montgomery, K. (2000). Classroom rubrics:
Systematizing what teachers do naturally. 
The Clearing House, 73(6), 324-328. 
Popham, W. J., (1997). What's wrong - and what's
right - with rubrics. Educational Leadership,
55(2), 72-74. 
Skillings, M. J. & Ferrell, R. (2000). Student-generated
rubrics: Bringing students into the assessment 
process. The Reading Teacher, 53(6), 452-455. 
Stanford, P. & Siders, J. A. (2001). Authentic
assessment for intervention. Intervention in 
School and Clinic, 36(3), 163-167. 
Whittaker, C. R., Salend, S. J. & Duhaney, D.
Creating instructional rubrics for inclusive 
classrooms. Teaching Exceptional Children, 
34(2), 8-13.



This site has over twenty rubric generators which will allow you to make grading rubrics by filling out a simple form. The materials are made instantly and can be printed directly from your computer. 

Kathy Schrock's Guide for Educators 
This site provides information on the creation and use of rubrics with additional resources as well as several examples of rubrics, including rubrics related to assessing student web pages. 

The Staff Room for Ontario's K-12 Teachers 
This site contains links to numerous rubrics for elementary teachers.

4-Teachers - Rubistar 

This is a teacher tool that helps teachers create quality rubrics for all content areas. The tool allows teachers to create rubrics, save rubrics, and analyze student data based on the completed rubrics.


Ten Sigma's RubricMaker software takes teachers beyond using rubrics in the classroom; it gives them a way to design and customize rubrics of their own. The RubricMaker offers four basic rubric design types, all of which can quickly be customized to meet each teacher's specific needs. You can also "point and click" from a database of criteria samples and other screens of pre-written ideas. The RubricMaker, which is both Mac and Windows compatible, is simple enough for first-time rubric designers, yet sophisticated enough for "rubric veterans." Even students will be able to design rubrics, putting responsibility for their work into their own hands. Ten Sigma's RubricMaker will save teachers time and help them to make evaluation more fair and more consistent.

For more information:

Rubricator 4.0
New Measure, Inc. has created its Rubricator 4.0 to help teachers align their academic standards, performance tasks, criteria, rubrics/checklists (scoring guides), and lessons. With precision and ease, teachers sharpen their assessment design skills and discover that the challenges of performance assessment can be more effectively managed through the use of these work templates and tools.

For more information:
New Measure
5466 Blairs Forest Way NE #189
Cedar Rapids, IA 52402
888-881-7979 toll-free
319-294-8213 fax

Examples of different rubrics
The Iditarod Newsletter rubric is the assessment tool from an 8th grade performance unit on the Iditarod. Julie, a general education teacher, and Katie, who teaches special education, teach the Iditarod unit in an English collaborative classroom.

The science rubrics were written by Cindy, an 8th grade science teacher, who uses rubrics to assess most of her instructional units. 

Iditarod Newsletter Scoring Guide 
Scientist in a Box 
Living Systems Presentation 
Scoring Guide for Human Body Book Systems