De-Grading, part 2: Rubrics

Points and “Points”

Rubrics are used for many kinds of assignments. Instead of using letter grades, a rubric uses numbers, each representing a different level of skill or knowledge. It’s a more holistic way to grade, valuing the student’s performance as a whole, rather than examining the nickels and dimes of each assignment.

Rubric scores are not ‘points’ in the sense that most teachers use the term. They don’t correspond to a percentage scale unless you make some way to convert them, which you will have to do in order to assign a letter grade on the report card.

A popular rubric scale has 4 as the high score (excellent, beyond proficient) and 1 as the low score (not proficient). In between are 2 and 3, which cover the ground between ‘barely proficient’ and ‘proficient.’ Because there are four levels in this scale, most teachers and students simply regard 4 as an A, 3 as a B, and so on — which defeats the purpose of using a rubric.

Doing the Math

There are teachers who do not like math, aren’t very good at math, and would rather think about it as little as possible. This leads to another set of problems.

On that 4-point rubric, there are usually several columns representing such areas as Content, Organization, Support, Style. Are all columns weighed equally? Is Style as important a part of the grade as Organization or Content? How much should Mechanics be worth? All of this is up to the teacher, who might make each column a quarter of the total grade just because it’s easier to figure out.

Next, each level 1-4 must be assigned a percentage or points value. 4 represents the highest possible score, 20 points. What about 1, 2, and 3? Because it’s easier, a teacher might make 4 = 20, 3 = 15, 2 = 10 and 1 = 5. But what if a 2 is supposed to represent the minimum passing grade? A student who gets a ‘2’ in each column will have a score of 50%, not passing. If 4 = 20, 3 should probably = 17, 2 = 14, and 1 = 11; then the student with all 2’s would have 70%.

I tried to explain this to a colleague once, but she liked her way better.

Tomorrow: Zero


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: De-Grading, part I « edaxicon

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