Extensive [but easy] Assessment with Rubrics

All we ever hear any more is “how are you assessing student progress?”  And while it can be a simple answer (i.e. “rubrics, essays, tests, etc”), sometimes coming up with what works and knowing what doesn’t can be hard.  A while back (I’m thinking last year), I posted about how I use the same rubric for all of my classes, “Consistency in a Rubric“…down to the way it looks and works.  As requested, I’m here to share with you the different categories of that rubric and some of the thinking behind that.

4-16-2013 3-26-34 PMThis is my rubric.  It’s pretty straight forward.  It has the typical grid and various degrees of levels met…but if you look closely, the top category is highlighted and completely empty.  On the left side is my grading panel (specifically labeled “teacher use only” for a reason).  And on the bottom is my “Quick Write” which is required for all projects (obviously sometimes scheduling changes your plans).

As is typical with rubrics, one side is higher level than the other – in my case, left is a better score than right.  You should also note that I have no numbers found anywhere on the rubric – this stresses students out, I promise.  The moment they see numbers they are more concerned with their score outcome than what the rubric represents and allows them to do.

4-16-2013 3-32-43 PM

There are five major categories, four of which never change.  The four that don’t change are not weighed evenly – in fact, all 5 categories can be adjusted depending on the use of the rubric.  The four constant are:

Creativity/Originality:4-16-2013 3-30-35 PM

The far left states that students are fully creative – they use problem solving (hey, your supervisor will love this 21st Century and Bloom’s Taxonomy connection) to figure out their desired outcome.  This can apply to any project because if you are running a class that emphasizes personal creativity, then they are making projects that are more about their style than anything else (I understand this can be hard in lower grades but any rubric can be tweaked as needed).  Their creativity and originality lowers as you move to the right – showing that they may have sought out other resources or built off of other ideas.  I tend to weigh this category higher than the remaining three but less than the “skill growth”.

Perseverance/Performance Product:
4-16-2013 3-36-11 PM

Perseverance is a fancy word for “effort” but you will never hear effort in my class for multiple reasons – most importantly that parents hate it when their child’s work is graded on effort.  Perseverance takes effort one step further – showing that the highest level is achieved with students complete a project using all the time available and look at the requirements only to take them one step further.  This category is left somewhat open so that students appreciate that working towards a goal and passing it is different than simply meeting the bare minimum.  Of course, the last category lays it out flat – no effort…but sometimes you have to be blunt.

Craftsmanship and Consistency:
4-16-2013 3-39-52 PM

No art project would be completely without addressing the assessment craftsmanship…I add the term “consistency” because it’s fair to assume craftsmanship is high when the level of work stays consistent (apologies for spelling errors in this image…old file copy).  Higher level craftsmanship means patience was used and quality work is present.  When discussing the rubric with students – you can throw in specific craftsmanship depending on the project.

and finally

Cooperation and Collaboration:
One of my favorite categories, cooperation and collaboration lays out the basic expectations within the classroom and while working on the project.  It encourages and assesses the student’s involvement in classroom discussion.

The only category that ever changes is “Skill Growth“.
This is weighed most heavily for the obvious reasons.  Part of the reason I title this section skill growth and not simply “painting”, for example is because, especially at the middle level, it’s more about how students grow within a technique or medium rather than whether or not they become experts.  As students get older, you could tweak this area to contain more specific information.  I also specify some craftsmanship details within this section – and I try my best to word this area similar to the others.

photo222Grading is on the left of the rubric – four shapes and three graders.  I have students grade their own work (not having numbers help them to forget about the numbers) and I also have peers share their opinion.  Typically these two scores seem to end up similar but when they don’t it provides a great foundation for a small conference between the students.  Both the peer and self grade is worth 25% of the end grade (total of 50%).  Then I grade the work, which weighs as 50% of the grade, totaling in all, 100%. The circle denotes where the student’s score will be.  The star, where the peer grade will be and the double square where my grade is.

Finally, of course, there is the written assessment.


This thrills administrators and is incredibly easy to do in your class considering it takes all of 5 minutes and if you set your class up with time for critique and discussion, then 5 minutes works its way in completely.  A quick write should prompt the students to think and write about things that relate to the unit – a prompt that helps students show written comprehension beyond the artistic ability is best.  Students get one minute to think, not write, about the prompt, three minutes to write and one minute to reflect, revise, and rewrite their response. Done – it goes faster for you than you think and they have more time then they realize.

The reason I love this rubric set up (and it was not an overnight creation), is because it encompasses self reflection, peer reflection, written response, goal setting, and teacher feedback – it does everything an assessment should do and most administrators wish they did.  I have to give mad props to another teacher from eastern Iowa who I adapted the 25/25/50 idea from and added the quick write, etc.  Most the teachers in my school do some sort of assessment prep or goal setting so it has become natural to discuss requirements and outline targets ahead of time.

Of course, the break down is nice but the main reason why we search out rubric information is the file…to download the rubric in it’s entirety, please click here. I use Illustrator to edit the rubric but it is a pdf.  If you open Adobe Illustrator and then open the file as a pdf, it should let you click around and alter things.  Hope this helps you rubric seekers!

For everyone asking how I use points and scoring, continue this adventure here.


14 responses to “Extensive [but easy] Assessment with Rubrics

  1. This is fantastic! Can you give me a little more information on how you do your grading since you don’t have any numeric values assigned to your rubric squares? It seems like it would be easily adaptable for the teacher to use an A/B/C/D type scale but what about those of us who need to have more specific grades than that? If you don’t have any suggestions then that’s fine… I am just looking for ways to re-vamp my middle grades rubric and yours seems awesome.

    • Mimi,
      I went ahead and sent you a private response as to not be so lengthy on this reply board. Hope it helps – if I misunderstood, just respond and we can go from there. Glad you found this useful!

  2. Do you end up with a numerical grade that goes into the gradebook? I would love to know how you end up with the final grade as well. Love all the components of the rubric! Thank you for sharing!

  3. Pingback: 5th Grade Sandwich Response (& Monet’s Lily Pond Display) | Art Class With LMJ·

  4. Could you e-mail me how you come up with your final grades? I love this rubric. I use a similar format but you are right about students being stressed by the numbers.

    • Anne,
      I am glad to! Check your inbox as I hope my email went through! It’s a bit lengthy and I’ve been meaning to reblog this and explain more but time is not my friend this month! Let me know your thoughts – would love to hear them!

  5. Hello, your site is such a help to me! I was wondering if I could get a copy of a sample graded rubric, or what everyone else requested, a way to use this in a traditional gradebook? I LOVE this rubric, I have been trying to make rubrics for every single project and it’s so tedious. I also couldn’t really find a way to assess “effort” but I love the way you do it. Thank you!!!!!

    • Harmony,
      I will email you the response that I’ve been meaning to turn into a blog post but have neglected. I unfortunately don’t really have any rubrics that are filled out because I transferred to Elementary this year but I’ll do some digging and see what I can find. Check your gmail and let me know if you have any questions! 🙂

  6. Pingback: Extensive [but easy] Assessment with Rubric; Follow Up: Assigning points & scoring! | Art Class With LMJ·

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