Rubrics: Transparent Assessment in Support of Learning
A Workshop by Kenneth Ronkowitz

Rubrics provide a powerful tool for grading and assessment that can also serve as a transparent and inspiring guide to learning. Rubrics have been used to increase transparency and accountability across K-12 and higher education, and in corporate and government settings.

Rubrics are a printed set of scoring guidelines (criteria) for evaluating work (a performance or a product) and for giving feedback. Generally, they are put in the form of a chart with an x and y axis of performance criteria and a evaluative range or scale.

There are a number of ways to categorize rubrics. One simple distinction is the holistic versus analytic rubric. A holistic rubric has one global, holistic rating for a behavior. This differs from an analytic rubric which has separate, holistic ratings of specified characteristics of a behavior.

Workshop Segments

1. Introduction to Rubrics - What is a rubric and why would you want to use one?
In simple terms, a rubric shows how learners will be assessed and/or graded. In formal terms, taken from the glossary of Understanding Educational Measurement by Peter McDaniel (1994), " A scoring rubric is a set of ordered categories to which a given piece of work can be compared. Scoring rubrics specify the qualities or processes that must be exhibited in order for a performance to be assigned a particular evaluative rating.

Rubrics are often used when groups are scoring responses in order to provide consistency in the assessment - examples: the high school AP essay test responses, placement tests for freshman, qualifying performances for admission to programs etc.

2. Types of Rubrics

3. STEPS for CREATING your own rubric

Rubric development guidelines

What are the different reasons for using rubrics?


ABET Scoring Rubrics for Program Outcomes from the University of Delaware, Dept. of Civil & Environmental Engineering

Here's an example of how a very simple rubric might be used to do open-ended assessments in mathematics - this site shows how a rubric can be used to score student responses rubrics and includes sample responses.

Rubrics for assessment from the University of Wisconsin - Stout

A rubric for evaluating academic Twitter use

This task specific rubric is for assessing a digital video project and shows the detail that some rubrics contain.

Bridge Building - task specific

NJEDge.Net Best Practices Proposals Evaluation - task specific

ETS Writing Rubric - specific to this writing task but adaptable to other writing

Evaluation of a Research Paper - though this rubric includes a scoring element for adherence to APA style, it is a general rubric that could be used with minor modifications for most research paper writing assignments.

Two general rubrics for Math Proofs and Math Problem Solving (University of Chicago)

Evaluating an Online Course - this very detailed rubric from USC at Chico, is used to evaluate 6 features of an online course - each feature is on its own rubric page. Compare it with an equally elaborate rubric that is used by WebCT  to judge entrants in their exemplary online courses competition. As is often the case, these task specific rubrics could easily be adapted for use in evaluating any online course by removing specific descriptors.

Assessing a Meeting - an interesting example both in structure and intent (Word document)

Finally, a general template for a typical rubric that shows how rubrics generally contain a number of performance objectives that are evaluated over a range of competencies.


Since a Google search on "rubrics" produced over 2 million hits, there should be no shortage of sites for you to explore.
Here are a few recommended links:

AAHE (American Association for Higher Education) - has rubrics links  and other assessment tools online

Guidelines for Rubric Development from San Diego State University's College of Education

An Introduction to Scoring Rubrics - though developed by the Chicago Public schools, these pages are a good introduction for any educator new to rubric use and creation.

Schools of California Online Resources for Education (SCORE) Rubrics

Wikipedia has a good page on the academic use of rubrics and another page on the history of rubrics.

A Method for Grading Essays in Any Course - from the Teaching Resource Center at U of Virginia

Essay Scoring Manual - developed for the scoring of essays written for the Regents' Testing Program of the University System of Georgia - besides the rubric for scoring, there are many useful references on this site for assessment.

Create Your Own Rubrics Online
RubiStar is one online tool to help the teacher (at all grade levels) who wants to use rubrics but does not have the time or experience to develop them from scratch. Start with the tutorial (it includes information on changing categories, their headings and content). Register (it's free) so that you can save and edit what you create on the site.


California schools have adopted rubrics as one way to standardize the assessment of students and curriculum - examples from different disciplines and rubrics used for California content standards assessment

Kathy Schrock's website includes extensive rubric links in many subject areas. Rubrics are long been used more widely at the K12 levels.

Life on Mars Project - One of many science rubrics created by NASA for schools.

Rubric for a language arts class on the sonnet by Leon Alirangues.  has many pre-made rubrics that you can use sorted by subjects and grade levels.

A video of an interactive session with participants from Fairleigh Dickinson University, Gloucester County College, Ramapo College and Rowan University on rubrics following this format is available online at

Ken Ronkowitz at NJIT