Recently, I had a someone ask, “What is a rubric?” As she had never heard of one, I assume there are others out there who need to know as well.

Here was my reply:

A rubric is a scoring guide that helps teachers grade an assignment; it also helps the student know the criteria for an assignment.
For example, in writing a paragraph, the rubric may give points for: grammar/conventions, topic sentence, supporting details, word choice, etc. Add all the points up, and that is the grade.

My take on rubrics:

I think rubrics are helpful, but I am not totally attached to them. Rubrics are beneficial in that as a student or teacher, you know what is expected out of an assignment; it is clearly laid out.

Where I am not the biggest fan of rubrics is–sometimes I find that they take away from holistically looking at an assignment. For instance, a student can turn in a paper that really shines, but miss on certain points and still get a “B.”

My suggestion is…use them as a guideline, but occasionally allow some flexibility in grading. If it is an “A” paper, give it an “A.” (I wouldn’t grade down, but definitely grade up when you feel the assignment has earned it!) This may seem a little subjective, but we really should reward quality work when we see it. Call it bonus points!