Rubrics for Kids and Teachers

Rubrics help kids understand what constitutes mastery of a skill.
Rubrics help kids understand what constitutes mastery of a skill.

A rubric is a set of guidelines for measuring progress towards a standard or objective.  Using one helps students and teachers share the same understanding of how progress will be measured and what constitutes mastery of that skill or goal.  Unlike letter grades, rubrics allow you to measure a child’s progress by identifying skills mastered and which ones need additional work. They can be written as a number, a checklist, or a narrative.

Rubrics can be developed by individual teachers, school or districts but the most powerful ones are developed WITH students.  Children sometimes have a tough time understanding what a “good job” means in a classroom. Often, it’s said without clarity and sometimes it looks different for different kids. Also “good job” can vary from teacher to teacher or time of the day. So, as teachers, we have to be sure that we are using language that kids understand and that understand the skills they have to achieve.  Once rubric language is taught to kids, teachers have to consistently use them to improve student learning.  

I used to explain to students the reason for using rubrics by using this example. When your parent tells you to clean your room, you do it, they check it and they think you did not do a good job. Kids immediately saw the need for a rubric.  They had experienced the difference between “mom’s clean and kid clean”.

Rubrics give details into a rating and can be created for all kinds of things!  What’s important is that kids and adults need to understand what they need to do at each level so they understand how they are doing.    

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Next Month: Rubrics in Teacher Evaluations

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