July 26

How to Create a Rubric: Introduction

Kelly Roell


 Updated on July 03, 2019

Perhaps you have never even thought about the care it takes to create a rubric. Perhaps you have never even heard of a rubric and its usage in education, in which case, you should take a peek at this article: “What is a rubric?” Basically, this tool that teachers and professors use to help them communicate expectations, provide focused feedback, and grade products, can be invaluable when the correct answer is not as cut and dried as Choice A on a multiple choice test. But creating a great rubric is more than just slapping some expectations on a paper, assigning some percentage points, and calling it a day. A good rubric needs to be designed with care and precision in order to truly help teachers distribute and receive the expected work. 

Steps to Create a Rubric

The following six steps will help you when you decide to use a rubric for assessing an essay, a project, group work, or any other task that does not have a clear right or wrong answer. 

Step 1: Define Your Goal

Before you can create a rubric, you need to decide the type of rubric you’d like to use, and that will largely be determined by your goals for the assessment.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How detailed do I want my feedback to be? 
  • How will I break down my expectations for this project?
  • Are all of the tasks equally important?
  • How do I want to assess performance?
  • What standards must the students hit in order to achieve acceptable or exceptional performance?
  • Do I want to give one final grade on the project or a cluster of smaller grades based on several criteria?
  • Am I grading based on the work or on participation? Am I grading on both?

Once you’ve figured out how detailed you’d like the rubric to be and the goals you are trying to reach, you can choose a type of rubric.

Step 2: Choose a Rubric Type

Although there are many variations of rubrics, it can be helpful to at least have a standard set to help you decide where to start. Here are two that are widely used in teaching as defined by DePaul University’s Graduate Educational department:

  • Analytic Rubric: This is the standard grid rubric that many teachers routinely use to assess students’ work. This is the optimal rubric for providing clear, detailed feedback. With an analytic rubric, criteria for the students’ work is listed in the left column and performance levels are listed across the top. The squares inside the grid will typically contain the specs for each level. A rubric for an essay, for example, might contain criteria like “Organization, Support, and Focus,” and may contain performance levels like “(4) Exceptional, (3) Satisfactory, (2) Developing, and (1) Unsatisfactory.” The performance levels are typically given percentage points or letter grades and a final grade is typically calculated at the end. The scoring rubrics for the ACT and SAT are designed this way, although when students take them, they will receive a holistic score. 
  • Holistic Rubric: This is the type of rubric that is much easier to create, but much more difficult to use accurately. Typically, a teacher provides a series of letter grades or a range of numbers (1-4 or 1-6, for example) and then assigns expectations for each of those scores. When grading, the teacher matches the student work in its entirety to a single description on the scale. This is useful for grading multiple essays, but it does not leave room for detailed feedback on student work. 

Step 3: Determine Your Criteria

This is where the learning objectives for your unit or course come into play. Here, you’ll need to brainstorm a list of knowledge and skills you would like to assess for the project. Group them according to similarities and get rid of anything that is not absolutely critical. A rubric with too much criteria is difficult to use! Try to stick with 4-7 specific subjects for which you’ll be able to create unambiguous, measurable expectations in the performance levels. You’ll want to be able to spot the criteria quickly while grading and be able to explain them quickly when instructing your students. In an analytic rubric, the criteria are typically listed along the left column. 

Step 4: Create Your Performance Levels

Once you have determined the broad levels you would like students to demonstrate mastery of, you will need to figure out what type of scores you will assign based on each level of mastery. Most ratings scales include between three and five levels. Some teachers use a combination of numbers and descriptive labels like “(4) Exceptional, (3) Satisfactory, etc.” while other teachers simply assign numbers, percentages, letter grades or any combination of the three for each level. You can arrange them from highest to lowest or lowest to highest as long as your levels are organized and easy to understand. 

Step 5: Write Descriptors for Each Level of Your Rubric

This is probably your most difficult step in creating a rubric.Here, you will need to write short statements of your expectations underneath each performance level for every single criteria. The descriptions should be specific and measurable. The language should be parallel to help with student comprehension and the degree to which the standards are met should be explained.

Again, to use an analytic essay rubric as an example, if your criteria was “Organization” and you used the (4) Exceptional, (3) Satisfactory, (2) Developing, and (1) Unsatisfactory scale, you would need to write the specific content a student would need to produce to meet each level. It could look something like this:




1 Unsatisfactory


Organization is coherent, unified, and effective in support of the paper’s purpose and
consistently demonstrates
effective and appropriate
between ideas and paragraphs.

Organization is coherent and unified in support of the paper’s purpose and usually demonstrates effective and appropriate transitions between ideas and paragraphs.

Organization is coherent in
support of the essay’s purpose, but is ineffective at times and may demonstrate abrupt or weak transitions between ideas or paragraphs.

Organization is confused and fragmented. It does not support the essay’s purpose and demonstrates a
lack of structure or coherence that negatively
affects readability.

A holistic rubric would not break down the essay’s grading criteria with such precision. The top two tiers of a holistic essay rubric would look more like this:

  • 6 = Essay demonstrates excellent composition skills including a clear and thought-provoking thesis, appropriate and effective organization, lively and convincing supporting materials, effective diction and sentence skills, and perfect or near perfect mechanics including spelling and punctuation. The writing perfectly accomplishes the objectives of the assignment.
  • 5 = Essay contains strong composition skills including a clear and thought-provoking thesis, but development, diction, and sentence style may suffer minor flaws. The essay shows careful and acceptable use of mechanics. The writing effectively accomplishes the goals of the assignment.

Step 6: Revise Your Rubric

After creating the descriptive language for all of the levels (making sure it is parallel, specific and measurable), you need to go back through and limit your rubric to a single page. Too many parameters will be difficult to assess at once, and may be an ineffective way to assess students’ mastery of a specific standard. Consider the effectiveness of the rubric, asking for student understanding and co-teacher feedback before moving forward. Do not be afraid to revise as necessary. It may even be helpful to grade a sample project in order to gauge the effectiveness of your rubric. You can always adjust the rubric if need be before handing it out, but once it’s distributed, it will be difficult to retract. 

Teacher Resources:

Roell, Kelly. (2020, August 26). How to Create a Rubric in 6 Steps. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/how-to-create-a-rubric-4061367


May 5

Workload forcing new teachers out of the profession, survey suggests

This article is more than 7 years old

New recruits say they don’t have a good work-life balance and 25% think they will quit in their first five years

Nicky Morgan
Education secretary Nicky Morgan has launched a survey asking teachers to share views on unnecessary workloads. The findings will be revealed later this year. Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP

Almost three quarters (73%) of trainee and newly qualified teachers (NQTs) have considered leaving the profession, according to a new survey by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.

Heavy workloads are wreaking havoc among new recruits as 76% of respondents cited this as the main reason they considered quitting.

Almost eight in 10 (79%) of the 889 students and NQTs surveyed by the union said they did not feel that they had a good work-life balance and the amount of work they were expected to do was the most common reason for disliking their jobs.

Other factors that made those starting out in teaching think about a change of career included “teacher bashing” in the press and a lack of respect for profession (30%). Around 26% blamed an increasing expectation to take part in out-of hours activities for their reservations.

When asked about out-of hours work, almost half (46%) said they work between six and 10 hours at the weekend during term time, while 28% work more than 10 hours. Just 2% did no work at all at this time.

Mary Bousted, general secretary of ATL, said: “Unless the government makes changes to address teachers’ workloads, we fear thousands of great teachers will leave.”

In response to the findings, a spokesperson for the Department for Education (DfE) said: “The secretary of state has made clear to the teaching unions our commitment to working with them to help reduce unnecessarily high workloads, caused by needless bureaucracy. We also announced our support for a new independent College of Teaching – a new organisation being developed by teachers for teachers to champion high standards in the profession.”

Julian Stanley, chief executive of the Teacher Support Network, was not surprised by the research results: “Teachers do not enter the profession expecting to work 9 to 5, but the fact is workloads are spiralling out of control. This is having a devastating impact not only on teachers’ mental and physical health but also on their ability to teach.”

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Of those surveyed, 25% said challenging pupil behaviour was the reason they had considered leaving – it came fifth in a list of 18 options. This comes almost exactly one year after Ofsted’s chief inspector, Michael Wilshaw, blamed “misbehaviour in schools” as a key reason why two-fifths of teachers quit in the first five years – a phenomenon he labelled a “national scandal”.

In the ATL’s most recent survey, by comparison, 25% of young recruits said they didn’t think they would still be teaching in five years’ time, although this figure more than doubled to 53% when the time frame was extended to 10 years.

Stanley said: “Finding a balance between maintaining and driving up standards while supporting teachers is in the best interest of children, parents, governors and school leaders. Health and wellbeing matters are not soft options but have a direct impact on the culture of a school, recruitment and retention of staff and student outcomes.”

Alan Newland, former primary headteacher, now lecturing and writing about teaching, said: “It’s not just the government that’s making huge demands on students and NQTs, schools and training centres can be just as bad, especially when they have an Ofsted [inspection].

“There is too much demanded – often on pain of failure or censure – on young teachers who are still learning the craft. They should be allowed time and tolerance to think creatively, make mistakes and learn from them. We encourage this for our pupils – student teachers and NQTs should be able to do the same. Just because you raise demands and expectations does not mean you raise standards.”

The results come at a worrying time for the profession, which is facing a recruitment crisis. Last year, official statistics showed that the government missed its recruitment target for the third year in a row.

John Howson, visiting professor at Oxford Brookes University, said: “The subject which worries me the most is design and technology where we have lost the equivalent of a whole training cohort in the last two years.

“The secretary of state and policy makers need to recognise that all teachers are there for the right reasons. Teachers work an employer-driven form of flexi time – they have to work extremely hard during term time and then catch up a little on this during the holidays. But even this is being eroded now, for example, as secondary teachers are expected to be in school during A-level and GCSE season.”

A DfE spokesperson said: “Teaching continues to be a hugely popular career with more teachers in England’s classrooms than ever before. We want to attract the best and brightest graduates into the teaching – and keep them there.”

Follow us on Twitter via @GuardianTeach. Join the Guardian Teacher Network for lesson resources, comment and job opportunities, direct to your inbox.

March 29




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Do public behavior charts have any place in a leadership classroom? The answer is clear: No! Authentically shifting student behavior from “challenging” to “consistently positive” requires a focus on positive engagement and the whole student. In fact, a growing body of research supports moving away from labeling or ranking student behavior. Even when executed with positive intent, traditional behavior modification plans can be problematic and create unintended negative consequences for students. They can also be detrimental to classroom culture. Courtney Clark, Interventionist at A. B. Combs Elementary, shares her experience with rating student behavior using traditional behavior charts.

Leader in Me Weekly: Please share more about your experiences with rating behavior according to a red, yellow, and green scale. 

Courtney: When my oldest child was a kindergartner, she came out from school every day and consistently told me, “I had a green day.” I would ask her to tell me more about what she learned and who she talked to, but she was determined to come out everyday and tell me her color and tell me who was on red or yellow. The more I thought about it and watched how other kids were interacting with their families after school, I realized that defining children as a color and inviting them to define themselves by their behavior doesn’t align with a leadership model. From there, I had a conversation with Principal Summers and we began to get rid of behavior chart practices at A. B. Combs.

What can you share with educators to help them shift their paradigm about this practice?

I try to express to teachers that behavior is a skill just like reading and math. If we have a child who’s lacking in an academic skill, we teach them and give them a chance to practice. It is the same thing with behavior. Give them time to practice and celebrate good effort—just like we would with other skills—that it’s not something to be punished because you don’t know it yet. We also want the focus to be on the whole person and leadership development. When we use a behavior chart that clips up and clips down or switches colors, we’re putting the focus on the wrong thing and it makes a child one-dimensional. That’s why we really have moved away from that system where everyone looks at that chart to see “where they are.” It is not a true picture of a child.

How can we support educators who still believe that students need to be punished for negative behaviors?

While we do definitely have consequences and compassionate responses for negative behavior, consequences without practice and support are ineffective. The other thing that we always try to keep in mind is that all behavior is communication. When a child is behaving in a certain way, they are communicating a need. So, once we figure out what that need is, and teach them how to get that need met in a safe and orderly way, then the negative behavior will likely subside.

What has the impact been on the school community from this shift in response to negative student behavior?

I can tell you that office referrals have dropped dramatically. And one of the things we did was work really hard to teach educators practices that help our children to calm down when they get upset. We focus on the pause—that space between the stimulus and the response. The work is in teaching the teachers and students how to grow their pause and how to deal with challenges in a calm way. Our teachers have become really good detectives at figuring out what happened before that behavior by asking:  What was that child trying to tell us? What fixed it? When is that child successful in the day? 

Thank you for teaching us to approach challenging student behaviors from a lens of leadership and fostering growth in the whole person! 

We can promote accountability and responsible leadership expectations with Personal Leadership WIGs. Using this strategy, all students work toward various Wildly Important Goals. These are built on students’ diverse needs and set up each person to celebrate growth as a community. One student leader may be working on using kind and respectful words with their peers, while another is striving to arrive on time for class. Shifting student behavior in this way involves moving away from what you want to stop and focusing much more on positive engagement—what you want to have happen—and the whole person. Build ownership, empowerment, and equitable systems for behavior accountability with Personal Leadership WIGs. Are you willing to give it a try?


Focus on positive engagement and the whole student with our Empower Positive Behavior With Personal Leadership WIGs resource.

Learn More:

March 9

A Program-Wide Approach for Strong Family Partnerships

Webinar Series

A Program-Wide Approach for Strong Family Partnerships

Recorded: Tuesday, July 20, 2021
A mother and her two children reading together on the floor.
Watch On-Demand
About this Session

Strong and reciprocal family relationships create intentional connections between school and home and reinforce learning. Since the beginning of the pandemic, programs have reinvested in their family partnerships, as families are a critical partner in education. As children return to the classroom and families return to work, how can schools and programs continue to foster strong family partnerships?

Join ReadyRosie founder, Emily Roden, and Teaching Strategies Dual-Language Content Manager, Clarissa Martinez, as they explore the critical role school and program leaders play in creating space for strong family partnerships. Leaders who attend this webinar will

  • discover the resources needed to build a program-wide family partnership strategy, rather than a classroom-by-classroom communication strategy;
  • examine the existing data on positive learning outcomes associated with strong family partnerships; and
  • come away with the tools to build a plan to collect appropriate data and make data-informed decisions about their programs’ family engagement strategy.
March 9

4 Ways to Support High-Performing World Language Learners

4 Ways to Support High-Performing World Language Learners

Differentiated tasks can help ensure that all learners in the classroom are engaged, including those who are ready for more challenges.

March 7, 2022
Two people watering a plant
Michael Austin / The iSpot

Have you encountered students who consistently put their best foot forward, no matter what they’re doing? Students who are resourceful, take charge of their own learning, and have the ability to use their critical thinking skills in learning another language? They’re probably high-performing.

My Tagalog classroom is no exception. Throughout my career as a world language teacher, I have been impressed by how high-performing students would ace every spoken or written assessment that I gave. However, along with the joy of witnessing these students excelling, I worry about not being able to match my teaching with what they really need to continue growing.

I apply these four practices in my classroom to better accommodate and engage high-performing students, without compromising other learners:


Instructional planning involves informed decision-making and is further strengthened by the way we respond to learners’ needs.

In one activity, I asked the class to craft a word cloud (using a free word cloud generator) featuring their favorite Tagalog word. Students explored the online tool and presented their outputs in whatever format they chose. High-performing learners specifically were able to use interesting shapes as well as connect those shapes to the meanings of their chosen Tagalog word. One learner chose the word oras (time) and created a word cloud in the shape of a clock that included related Tagalog phrases and words, such as the three aspects of verbs—perpektibo (past), imperpektibo (present), and kontemplatibo (future).

When it comes to nurturing high-performing learners’ critical thinking skills, however, try to entertain their questions and provide resources that will satisfy their curiosity. Exposing them to additional new content as they learn the target language or culture is a good way to develop their critical thinking skills. My students are better able to explore other points of view and expand their horizons on the topics they are most invested in. This can also be done with other advanced learners who are interested in either learning more about an aspect of the target language or better understanding some cultural notes about a country where the language is spoken.

After discussing the concept of pakikipagtawaran (haggling) in the Filipino culture, one student shared a story about her father, who was a “good haggler” himself. To feed her curiosity, I sent a copy of a research study on the haggling behavior of Filipinos for her to peruse.


Collaboration ushers in a more meaningful and interactive world language learning experience. I always consider variety and the nature of the tasks given when determining which type of grouping to use. Similar-ability groupings help high-performing students enjoy activities within their levels of understanding, while also giving teachers the opportunity to introduce tasks that are a little more complex or challenging than usual.

A group of high-performing students from my class chose to produce a video of beautiful places in their area—the West Coast of the United States—as part of a lesson on locating places and events in Tagalog using the Nasa (where a place is) and Sa (where an event is) sentences. I especially enjoyed how they extended their discourse by going beyond the sentence patterns I taught them, and the way they enunciated words made it feel like there were native Tagalog speakers in the room.

At the same time, when world language learners are in mixed-ability groups, they can gain knowledge and understanding from diverse perspectives. This enriches the world language learning experience because students get to negotiate meaning and build trust with one another when accomplishing their tasks as a group. On top of that, high-performing learners can serve as mentors or facilitators for their group. I call it a “bayanihan” moment, when members of the group help one another to reach a goal. This is a nod to the Filipino spirit of community that highlights people’s unity and camaraderie in times of crisis.

I asked students to negotiate with an assigned tindero/tindera (vendor) to practice their haggling skills in Tagalog. The goal was to persuade the vendor to grant the tawad (discount) that they wanted. The high-performing learners made sure that they were there to help their group members if a peer forgot what to say or how to respond to a question in the target language. Some students even translated difficult phrases to make meaning more comprehensible and interpretable for others.


Whether written or verbal, the right amount of positive feedback provides encouragement to all learners. This is especially true for high-performing students, who we can motivate by acknowledging their accomplishments and excellent work in class. But balance is key.

When every single contribution is praised, student confidence may turn to arrogance, translating to inappropriate comparisons between themselves and the rest of the group or license to reduce their effort and engagement in class. Additionally, other students may feel that high-performing learners are highly favored or, worse, receiving special treatment.

I ask myself three questions to help me identify if I am giving the right amount and type of positive feedback to high-performing learners:

  1. What is the purpose of this positive feedback? Am I, for example, giving positive feedback to encourage good behavior and strengthen good study habits in class?
  2. Am I giving learners the opportunity to reflect on their performance when given constructive positive feedback?
  3. Am I overdoing positive feedback to the point that negative comparisons or competitions among learners are already forming?

In addition to these questions, this article on maximizing feedback in the classroom has been helpful for me.


Choice is everything in my classroom. Aside from accommodating learner differences, choices allow high-performing students to showcase the knowledge and skills they have acquired in a different context.

I usually present three options to choose from—easy, average, and difficult—for their extended work, explaining my expectations for each. Each assignment type has a corresponding number of points, though I do not explicitly tell them that the points they earn depend on the complexity of the assignment; learners notice this themselves.

In my beginning Tagalog class, I ask learners to choose among three extended works to be presented in class the next day. I have them apply what they learned about Baybayin, an ancient Filipino script:

  • For the first option, the learners were to write just their names using Baybayin.
  • The second, slightly harder, option was to write theirs and another person’s name.
  • The last and most challenging option was to write all the names of their family members.
March 4

Tip of the Week

March 4, 2022

Increase Performance in Just 2 Minutes

Allison Behne

Issue #707My recent binge show on Netflix is Grey’s Anatomy. To say I am late to the party with this one is an understatement—the show debuted in 2005, and I watched my first episode in 2021—but nevertheless I started it. I enjoy the show and really enjoy the fact that there are 17 seasons on Netflix, so it can keep me entertained for quite some time. And, although most episodes are merely entertaining, a few spark my curiosity. For example, season 11, episode 14, “The Distance.”

In this episode, Amelia Shepherd, a neurosurgeon and chief of neurosurgery, is about to enter the operating room and attempt to remove a brain tumor from a colleague when she stops, takes a deep breath, confidently puts her hands on her hips, stands with her feet shoulder-width apart, and lifts her chin to look upward, as though she were Superman himself. As she is doing this, her resident walks in, looks at her quizzically, and asks what she is doing. Amelia responds, “There is a scientific study that shows that if you stand like this, in superhero pose, for just five minutes before a job interview or a big presentation or a really hard task, you will not only feel more confident, you will perform measurably better.”

Wait. What? Pause the show. Is that true, or is that just script in a TV show to add to the drama? I opened my computer to search for information and was surprised at all I found.

And the list went on . . .

TED Talks, research studies, articles—it was all there to back the benefit of standing in a power pose for anywhere from two to five minutes. An increase in testosterone and a decrease in cortisol is chemical evidence of the change that shows the superhero pose positively charges your neuro-endocrine levels, and the results are encouraging. So of course, this led me to question the effects of the superhero pose on teaching and learning. If research shows it increases confidence and performance, I believe it’s worth trying. Think about the possible effects . . .

  • before students enter the room each morning.
  • with students as a brain break before an assessment or big task.
  • in preparation for a big presentation.
  • getting ready for parent/teacher conferences.
  • before a concert or band performance.

It’s time for some action research. Try the superhero pose or some other power pose with your students or even on your own, and see if you notice a difference. I mean, even if it only boosts confidence, we can all use more of that, right?