Monday, August 20, 2012

Grading with a Rubric

In an earlier post (here) I talked about the 4 point rubric that we use.  Now that we have the rubric,  we need to make sure everyone understands how to grade with it!  What we discovered early on is that there were some misunderstanding to this process and some were still grading each question /4 and then finding an average of all of the scores.  This is not the way we want to be using the rubric.  In fact, one thing that should be pointed out is that at no point do you ever want to see a  #/4 on an assessment.  Mathematically this can be confusing, as students will convert to a percent and the rubric is not about a fraction/percent "grade" but a level of understanding.

In Robert Marzano's book Formative Assessment and Standards Based Grading he spends a whole chapter (3) talking about this scale and showing how to score with it.  He talks about organizing assessments into three sections - one for score 2.0 content, one for score 3.0 content and one for score 4.0 content.  (Page 46)   We now do this on all of our assessments.  The students are well aware of where each question fits on the level of understanding rubric.  Marzano then goes on to say that "to score this assessment, the teacher would look at the pattern of responses across the three sections.  If a student correctly answered all items on the test, she would receive a score of 4.0.  If she answered all items correctly in section A (level 2) and B (level 3) but not C (level 4), she would receive a score of 3.0.  If she answered all of the items correctly to section A but not B and C, she would receive a score of 2.0.  If she could answer no items correctly on her own but could answer some items correctly with help from the teacher, she would receive a score of 1.0."  (Page 46)  This is exactly how we grade with our rubrics.  The challenge lies with those students who have some questions correct in a level but not all.  This is where our half points come in to play.

This has been difficult for some students to understand.  They might have the same quantity of questions correct, but score different from a peer and wonder why.  It has taken a lot of teaching to have them understand that they need to read the rubric to see where their level of understanding is consistent.  I have given back assessments to my students that does not have a score on it.  I have corrected the assessments and recorded in my gradebook their score, but have not written it on their papers.  I ask them to go through their assessment, read the rubric and score their assessment.  I then take them back in to see what they think.  Most students are bang on.  The ones that aren't we then have a discussion.  Some have even convinced me that they deserve the score they gave.  These conversations show me that their level of understanding is maybe higher than I thought.  I would like to do more of this with my students this year.

A couple of my colleagues and I created a couple of short videos to help others understand how to grade with a rubric.  These were done a couple years ago and the look of our assessments have changed, and the rubric has changed but the idea of how to grade has remained the same.  The videos are here and here.

This year our math department will meet on a regular basis to do common grading.  I believe this is also important to make sure we are all interpreting the rubric consistently and to see if any need tweeking because we are too far apart in our interpretations.


  1. I love the second paragraph of this post where you explain how to split assessments for better grading and transparency for students. I read Marzano's book but did not take that away. I'll definitely start doing something like that now.

  2. You know, when we first read the book we did not take that away either. It was after a year and a half of implementation that we were re-reading some of the book and that stuck with us at that time! It does make things a lot simpler for everyone involved!