Skip to main content

Everything you never wanted to know about rubrics

image Let’s start by saying I hate rubrics.  I have always hated them, since I first saw one and puzzled through what it was and what it meant. 

But they have become standard here, for no good reason, and crop up almost daily when ds gets his assignments back (he does his high school credit courses online from home through a virtual public high school).

Here’s how it works:  instead of a mark, the teacher returns a grid with all the POSSIBLE marks, and then tells you what yours is.  Well, not exactly marks.  All the possibilities for how good you could have been in a given area.  Here’s how it goes in any given category:

  • Level 1:  Not good
  • Level 2:  Some good
  • Level 3:  Pretty good
  • Level 4:  Way good

image The wording varies according to what the thing actually was that the kid was supposed to be doing… but not very much, because teachers get sick of creating these grids for every single assignment, so I suspect they mostly cut and paste from one to the other.

And my question is WHY?  What’s wrong with percentages, which let you “see” all the possibilities at once, in a very standard way:  is it 60% or 98%?

But no.  A rubric for a history assignment will say something like this:

COMMUNICATION:  Communication of information and ideas

  • Level 1:  does not communicate information and ideas clearly
  • Level 2:  communicates information and ideas with limited clarity
  • Level 3:  communicates information and ideas with some clarity
  • Level 4:  communicates information and ideas with considerable clarity

And then, ideally, the teacher simply chooses one of the four boxes.  But in the particular assignment that triggered this rant, today, the teacher seems to have chosen e) None of the above, and wrote instead under the rubric for this category:

  • communicates information and ideas with a high degree of clarity

It’s nice to know that this kid knows how to communicate (I already knew that).  But is “HIGH DEGREE” better than “some”?  Is it better than “considerable”?  Where does it fit in the rubric scheme?  It doesn’t.

One more example from this particular assignment:

THINKING:  Describe the significance to Canadian history

  • Level 1:  does not use processing skills -no evaluation/ conclusions
  • Level 2:  uses  processing skills to evaluate and draw conclusions with limited effectiveness
  • Level 3:  uses processing skills to evaluate and draw conclusions with some effectiveness
  • Level 4:  uses processing skills to evaluate and draw conclusions with considerable effectiveness

Again, the teacher has placed him in a category of his own (I already knew THAT) by responding with another e) None of the above:

  • uses processing skills to evaluate and draw conclusions with exemplary effectiveness

Why do they even inflict these things on us?  Why not say 95% or 97% or 43% and be done with it?  Do they think we can’t figure out a more conventional mark?

It is perhaps helpful to see assignment grades broken down into categories like Communication or Thinking.  Perhaps.  But to then break down those categories into levels numbered 1-4 is arbitrary and weird. 

And then there’s the phrase “limited effectiveness,” which pops up in the Level 1 category alarmingly frequently:  “writes in role with limited effectiveness.”

How’s that for limited helpfulness?  How about just saying “ineffective,” “poor” or, if you don’t want to hurt their feelings, “needs improvement?”

image Here’s a much simpler “rubric”, the way we did things when I was their age (and now I’m sounding real old!):

  • A:  Does this thing pretty darn well.
  • B:  Gettin’ it done.
  • C:  Shlepping along.
  • D:  Uh-oh… watch out!
  • F:  Oops!  This one stands for FLUNK.  Can’t do this one for beans.

Gosh, you’re right – that does look too complicated for the typical mommy to understand… especially given that since switching to the new system, she’s been stuck “interpreting assignment grades with limited effectiveness.”

Popular posts from this blog

לימודי קודש/Limudei Kodesh Copywork & Activity Printables

Welcome to my Limudei Kodesh / Jewish Studies copywork and activity printables page.  As of June 2013, I am slowly but surely moving all my printables over to 4shared because Google Docs / Drive is just too flaky for me. What you’ll find here: Weekly Parsha Copywork More Parsha Activities More Chumash / Tanach Activities Yom Tov Copywork & Activities Tefillah Copywork Pirkei Avos / Pirkei Avot Jewish Preschool Resources Other printables! For General Studies printables and activities, including Hebrew-English science resources and more, click here . For Miscellaneous homeschool helps and printables, click here . If you use any of my worksheets, activities or printables, please leave a comment or email me at Jay3fer “at” gmail “dot” com, to link to your blog, to tell me what you’re doing with it, or just to say hi!  If you want to use them in a school, camp or co-op setting, please email me (remove the X’s) for rates. If you just want to say Thank You, here’s a

Ancient Auction Secret: If Chinese auctions are racist, why do Jews love them so much?

Ah, Jews, Jews, Jews, Jews.  You sure do love your Chinese auctions, don’t you? It seems that even in an era of political correctness, within certain circles, this term just will not die . And frankly, I’m mortified. I’m not Chinese, but I have family who is Chinese.  Some are Korean, as well.  I guess this makes us more ethnically diverse than many Jews, but I suspect most Jewish families are moving in this direction.  Still.  Even if we don’t know a single Chinese person, we should still stop calling it that. First of all… is it actually racist to call it a Chinese auction? I figured I’d let Chinese people decide.  But when I turned to Google to find out how Chinese people feel about Chinese auctions, what I found was mostly… nothing.  Silence.  I did find some debate (presumably among non-Chinese people) over whether it was too far in the direction of political correctness to refer to these as a “silent auction” or (as in some parts of the States) a “tricky tray.”  (Ok

Hebrew/ עברית & English General Studies Printables

For Jewish Studies, including weekly parsha resources and copywork, click here . If you use any of my worksheets, activities or printables, please leave a comment or email me at Jay3fer “at” gmail “dot” com, to link to your blog, to tell me what you’re doing with it, or just to say hi!  If you want to use them in a school, camp or co-op setting, please email me (remove the X’s) for rates. If you enjoy these resources, please consider buying my weekly parsha book, The Family Torah :  the story of the Torah, written to be read aloud – or any of my other wonderful Jewish books for kids and families . English Worksheets & Printables: (For Hebrew, click here ) Science :  Plants, Animals, Human Body Math   Ambleside :  Composers, Artists History Geography Language & Literature     Science General Poems for Elemental Science .  Original Poems written by ME, because the ones that came with Elemental Science were so awful.  Three pages are included:  one page with two po