Purpose: To evaluate the quality of a student’s performance against a list of criteria. Rubrics are used when judgements about observable evidence of student performance are required. Unlike numerical values such as test scores, which may not give a student adequate information about how to improve his or her performance, rubrics are designed to provide clear descriptions of what is expected at each level. Often the same items used in a checklist can be transformed into a rubric.

Rubrics can be used for either "analytic" or "holistic" scoring of student work. In analytic scoring, a performance or product is "broken down" into its most important parts; each part is described on the rubric, and each part gets a score. In holistic scoring, the important parts are described on the rubric, but a single score for the entire performance or product is given. A third option is a combination of analytic and holistic scoring; each important part described on the rubric gets a score, and then the individual scores are weighted or averaged to produce a final score.

An EFF rubric should describe use of the Standard being assessed in the context of a specific activity, and be tailored to the level of your students. See the level descriptors in the performance continuum for the Standard you are using to check that your rubric is capturing level-appropriate information.


  1. Decide whether a rubric is needed. If all you need to know is whether the student can complete tasks and subtasks a checklist might be a better choice (See checklist tool). If, however, you want to assess “how well” a student can complete a task or prepare a product (for instance, so that you can plan additional instruction to support some specific aspect of the student's performance), begin to develop a rubric.
  2. Start by defining the list of criteria that you want to observe. They should describe the key aspects of using the Standard for this purpose and at this level. For each item on the list, you will need to describe 3-4 levels of performance.
  3. Now start thinking about each level of performance. Some people like to start by thinking about the criteria for proficient/competent performance first, and then defining low and high performance. Others prefer to start by thinking about the top level of performance first. Whatever sequence you use, you want to be describing three contrasting levels of performance. You can do this by asking yourself, What would outstanding performance at this level look like? What would sound, acceptable performance look like? A performance that is not quite good enough?
  4. To use the rubric to evaluate a student’s performance, simply note the score for each item and then find the average. If the student knows enough English to understand the text of the rubric, allow the student to self-assess as well. Remember that a single number provides limited information. What will be more valuable for you and the student is to review the score for each item in order to better understand where the student’s strengths and weaknesses are.
  5. Test the rubric out several times and refine it based on your observations.

Sample Rubric

Below is a sample rubric for assessing the ability to read a news article for the purpose of being better informed about current events. Notice how the "Read with Understanding" Standard is addressed by the rubric. Also note that Level 3 is best described by the descriptors in the "Successful" column. Students scoring mostly ones or threes may actually be at a lower or higher reading level.

Rubric for reading a news article

Standard: Read with Understanding Level: 3

Name _______________________________ Date. ___________________


1 - Needs improvement

2 - Successful

3 - Outstanding

Decoding Score _____________

Difficulty decoding; relies upon limited number of strategies for decoding print

Aware of varied strategies for decoding, but uses inconsistently

Uses varied strategies to decode text

Comprehension Score _____________

Has difficulty drawing upon prior knowledge related to the topic or makes illogical connections.

Can draw upon some prior knowledge, with help

Able to apply prior knowledge of the topic to comprehension of text.

Able to summarize only the general topic of article, without specifics.

Able to summarize article's main points.

Able to summarize article's main points and ideas that made a strong impression.

Not familiar with how to use the reading cues available in the newspaper format.

Uses knowledge of newspaper format and reading cues, but not intentionally (i.e. when reader gets stuck).

Able to use knowledge of newspaper format as reading cues (pictures, 5Ws)

Interpretation and analysis Score _____________

Has difficulty putting article into a context or making connections to other news or events.

Can make some connections between article content and other news of interest.

Able to put information into the context of related news and events.

Has difficulty identifying and comparing views on the topic.

Able to summarize views in general terms.

Able to compare and contrast reported views.

Application Score _____________

Based on the article, does not communicate informed opinions, thoughts, and/or questions about the topic.

Based on the article, ability to express informed opinions, thoughts and/or questions is uneven.

Based on the article, able to express informed opinions, thoughts, and/or questions about topic.

Used in Teaching/Learning Examples:

Reading a Grocery List

Talking to Co-workers