Graded school papers - grading rubrics

Grading Rubric – what is that? Have you ever heard of grading rubrics before?

If not, you are not alone! I did some searching online the other day and found several universities giving instructions to their faculty about how to use grading rubrics. What are grading rubrics and why should you care? Keep reading, and let’s find out.

Show of hands, please. Who loves grading papers? Better yet? Who loves grading writing assignments, reports, or projects? No? Hey, you aren’t alone! I would way rather grade advanced math assignments than an essay! I dreaded grading reports and writing assignments. They were too overwhelming and complicated. There is no right answer!

But then I learned about grading rubrics, and all was sunshine and rainbows once again. Not really, but grading rubrics certainly helped me do a better job with creating and grading essay tests, writing assignments, and reports.

What Is a Grading Rubric?

Simply put, a grading rubric is an outline of what you are looking for in an assignment. It is setting out in advance the structure, standards, expectations, and values of a perfect assignment. It lists what you expect to see in the assignments, what other factors you are looking for, and how each of these items will be graded.

Here is an example: Let’s say you have assigned a book report to your child. You want your child to read the books, comment on the plot, the characters, his impressions of the book, etc. So, create a little chart or table for yourself that outlines this.

Book Report AssignmentLooking for –Points PossiblePoints Awarded
PlotShould include the 5 key features of the plotline (List them for yourself so you know what to look for)10 
Characters4 main characters – character traits of each (Make your own list of what a perfect answer for each character would include)20 
ImpressionsPersonal impressions  – logical, gives explanations10 
MechanicsStructure of report. Grammar usage10 
Point Totals 50 

How Will a Grading Rubric Help You?

I think you will find that grading rubrics will be very helpful to you in these important ways:

They will help you create better assignments and projects.

By determining in advance what you want the final response to contain, you will able to write the assignment instructions with better clarity. Your instructions will be more precise and your child will better understand what you are looking for when you grade the assignment.

You will approach grading the assignments knowing exactly what you are looking for.

When you create your grading rubric you will list out the key items a perfect answer should contain. Then, as you read the assignment you can check to see if each of those key elements is part of the answer. Award or take off points accordingly.

Using rubrics to create assignments will help your child better understand what you are looking for and how to organize and structure his response.

After you create your grading rubric you can then use that outline to create the assignment. You will be able to include more specifics in your assignment so your child better understands what is being asked of him. You can even include point totals, if you wish, in his assignment to help better communicate how his responses affect or contribute to his final grade.

How Do You Create a Grading Rubric?

So, you are convinced that this grading rubric idea can help you out. How do you create one? Here are some suggestions:

  • Determine the total point value of the assignment.
  • Decide on the key components necessary to fulfill the assignment.
  • Then list the main points you are looking for in each of the key component areas.
  • Will you include grammar components in the final grade?
  • Assign point totals to each key component. Remember, your component points should add up to the total point value you determined earlier.

Be sure you have this all written out; don’t just set it up in your head. Because you will forget!

How Do You Use a Rubric to Create the Assignment?

So, now you need to make the assignment for your child. Look back at the rubric you created. As you begin to create the assignment, be sure to include the key components your child needs to know to complete the assignment. For example, don’t just say to write a book report. Instead, you can say, “Write a book report about such and such a book. Be sure to include a summary of the plot, a brief character analysis of the four main characters, and your impressions of the book.” The more specific you are in giving the assignment, the better your child will do at meeting your expectations.

How Do You Grade with a Grading Rubric?

Now it’s time to grade the assignment. You have your grading rubric all set up. Compare your listed items on the rubric to your child’s submitted assignment. Does his work check off all the boxes on your rubric? Has he included all the key components? Use the point totals you set up when you made the rubric to determine your child’s score.

Do You Need a Grading Rubric for Every Assignment?

No, you do not need to use a rubric for every assignment! These are best used for projects, essays, essay test questions, reports, and writing assignments. And they don’t have to be complicated, either. Each different assignment will determine how detailed a rubric you need to create.

A rubric for an essay question could just include the main points needed to demonstrate knowledge of the facts.

A rubric for an advanced math or science problem could include using the right equation, setting up the problem correctly, doing correct computation, getting the correct answer at the end.

Grading rubrics will help you get through all those assignments and projects you dread grading. While it may take a bit of extra time to get used to creating and using the rubrics, I think you will find that they will save you time and effort as you use them. They will help you both create and grade assignments and projects more effectively and efficiently.

Carol Rhine Rhine Home School Services

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