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Rubrics have fundamentally changed how teachers approach assessing student work. That is a good thing. On the other hand, standard analytical rubrics have not been without limitations. In response, different types of rubrics and strategies for implementing rubrics have emerged. Most recently, variations of a single point rubric have been developed and publicized. Single point rubrics have distinct advantages over more traditional analytic rubrics. This isn’t just a fad; it is a step forward. To that end, the goal is to present an overview of both analytic and single point rubrics.
What is an analytic rubric?
An analytic rubric is a graduated scoring guide used to evaluate the quality of student work according to specific criteria.
What is the purpose of the analytic rubric?
The purpose of an analytic rubric is to clarify expectations by making grading criteria explicit and quantifiable. Teachers are able to provide students with specific criteria students need to meet to earn a specific grade. They are also able to justify the grades they assign. Students are made aware of the requirements of an assignment and are able to self-assess while working and before submitting an assignment. Analytic rubrics can be also be used as a peer review tool.
Benefits of analytic rubrics
Analytic rubrics have many advantages and represent significant improvements over most previous scoring protocols (or, if we are honest, lack thereof).
- Objectivity-Analytic rubrics are perceived as objective, quantifiable grading tools. The subjective impression of the teacher is no longer the primary consideration in assigning a grade to complex projects or written assignments.
- Completeness-In strong analytic rubrics, little or nothing is missed. Analytic rubrics are intended to be comprehensive grading tools. A strong analytic rubric incorporates all the major skills and objectives assessed by a particular assignment.
- Details-Well-designed analytic rubrics provide detailed information about the expected outcomes of an assignment.
- Communication-Teachers can use analytic rubrics to facilitate clear and meaningful communication on success criteria with students, administrators, parents, and others.
- Consistency-An analytic rubric promotes consistency across different teachers, classes and/or assignments, especially when teachers are able to grade together to ensure common interpretation of a rubric’s language.
- Feedback-Students are able to use the analytic rubric to identify what they have and have not done well.
Limitations of Analytic Rubrics
Despite the many advantages of using an analytic rubric, they also have significant limitations.
Grading-It can be complicated to determine a traditional letter or number grade based on a 4 or 5 or 6 point analytic rubric with several categories of criteria.
- Time-consuming-Analytic rubrics often take excessive time to create and to use for scoring.
- Requires training-Teachers, students, parents, and other stakeholders need explicit instruction and practice to consistently use and interpret analytic rubrics effectively.
- Feedback-The volume of text in an analytic rubric limits the amount of and room for personalized feedback students receive.
- Completeness-On analytic rubrics, a student can be proficient overall without meeting important specific standards. A high grade can be earned by mastering most of the objectives and completely missing others.
- Details-Analytic rubrics contain a large volume of text, often incorporate arbitrary distinctions such as “minimal explanation,” “adequate explanation,” and “masterful explanation.” Some contain quantified levels that equate amount with effectiveness such as “no details,” “1-3 details that may or may not be relevant,” “2-4 relevant details,” and “4 or more relevant details.”
- Objectivity-In order to maintain perceived objectivity, analytic rubrics inadvertently prioritize standards over student needs and student growth.
- Misuse-Too often, analytic rubrics are misused for summative assessment rather than being used to provide ongoing formative feedback for improvement.
What is a single-point or one-point rubric?
A single point rubric is a modification of a traditional analytic rubric. Jennifer Gonzalez, who has written several articles about single point rubrics, defines a single point rubric this way:
A single-point rubric is a lot like an analytic rubric, because it breaks down the components of an assignment into different criteria. What makes it different is that it only describes the criteria for proficiency; it does not attempt to list all the ways a student could fall short, nor does it specify how a student could exceed expectations.
How is a single point rubric different?
The purpose of a single point rubric is both similar to and different from analytic rubrics. Like an analytic rubric, the single point rubric also seeks to clarify expectations, justify grades, make students aware of success criteria, and promote peer review. Unlike an analytic rubric, it focuses exclusively on the level of proficiency expected coupled with personalized feedback.
Benefits of single point rubrics
Single point rubrics retain most of the benefits of an analytic rubric. This new iteration of rubrics moves beyond traditional analytic rubrics to make learning more student-centered, strength-focused, and easy to understand.
- Clarity-Single point rubrics specify specific success criteria without detailing all the ways in which a student can fall short. The reduced volume of text makes it easier for students to focus on mastery and develop a deeper understanding of the expectations.
- Flexibility-Because a single point rubric leaves most of the page blank, the teacher has the flexibility to tailor feedback to specific student strengths and weaknesses. In addition, single point rubrics do not narrowly define success in limiting ways, so students are free to find unique and creative ways to reach mastery.
- Grading-Single point rubrics align well with standards-based grading, make individualized goals easier, and are feedback focused. The teacher can provide nuanced personalized improvement feedback without compromising on the standard of mastery.
- Communication-Teachers can use single point rubrics to facilitate clear and meaningful communication of success criteria with students, administrators, parents, and others. The combination of multiple anchor works and single points rubrics can build a thorough understanding of mastery for students and others.
- Feedback-Students are forced to both engage in self-analysis and actively utilize specific teacher and/or peer feedback to improve their work. Feedback is individualized, actionable, and acts as an important aspect of the learning process.
- Manageability-Single point rubrics are easier and faster to create because of their simplicity. For ongoing assessment, they are much more manageable to implement than traditional analytical rubrics. Straightforward, simple language makes reading and understanding the single point rubric more manageable for students as well.
- Progress-oriented-Unlike traditional grades and rubrics, single point rubrics are rooted in personal progress. Consequently, the ability of students to make comparisons, especially derogatory comparisons, or compete for grades, is greatly reduced.
- Empowerment-Single point rubrics empower teachers to honestly and naturally assess student work and provide tailored feedback to each student. They also empower students to take ownership of their learning and judging the quality of their work.
Limitations of Single Point Rubrics
Despite the many advantages of using a single point rubric, they also have some limitations.
- Grading-It can be complicated to determine a traditional letter or number grade based on a single point rubric that typically lacks grade based gradations. Single-point rubrics are not well-suited for summative grading.
- Time-consuming-Single point rubrics often take excessive time to use for scoring and for self or peer evaluation. It also takes additional training for all stakeholders to understand and effectively use single point rubrics.
- Requires training-Teachers, students, parents, and other stakeholders need explicit instruction and practice to use consistently use and interpret single point rubrics effectively.
- Feedback-The single-point rubric requires the teacher to write (or otherwise provide) significant amounts of feedback to students which can be time-consuming and requires intense attention to detail.
Single point rubrics are not perfect, and they are not a solution to every grading problem. They do; however, represent a viable alternative to traditional analytic rubrics with a focus on formative, timely, actionable, and personalized feedback.
Variations of Single-Point Rubrics
One of the advantages of single point rubrics is the numerous variations possible. In contrast to an analytic rubric, single point rubrics allow a larger degree of flexibility and customization. These variations also represent a wide array of uses that single point rubrics communicate for a particular assignment. All variations of single point rubrics support communication, reflection, growth, and student-centeredness. Some variations of single point rubrics include:
- Ungraded-An ungraded single-point rubric does not designate a grade and focuses exclusively on individualized feedback. This variation is ideal for formative assessment during the process of learning.
- 1-4 Scale-A single-point rubric with a four-point scale provides a simple number or letter score in addition to specific feedback. For schools that require updated gradebook entries, this variation can be helpful.
- Points-This type of single point rubric provides a more precise numerical score alongside specific feedback so students can see the precise amount of change or improvement needed to earn the desired grade. Those students and teachers who are first introduced to single point rubrics may find this variation less foreign.
- Met, Unmet-A met, unmet single-point rubric is designed to pinpoint student mastery of identified standards. Coupled with actionable feedback, this variation aligns to standards-based grading while supporting student growth.
- Symbol-Symbol based single point rubrics are ideal for younger students who are learning to self-assess, as well as for situations where an ungraded rubric is ideal, but students need a visual cue related to their performance.
- Planner-The planner variation of a single point rubric is well-suited to group projects that require a combination of collaboration, careful tracking, self-assessment, and on-going feedback.
- Self/Peer-Assessment-When space in single point rubrics is left requiring students to articulate their level of proficiency and provide specific examples, the teacher has the opportunity to coach students to self-assess effectively. This variation can also readily incorporate peer feedback.
Analytic rubrics are an important and useful tool. Single-point rubrics capitalize on the benefits of analytic rubrics, while both minimizing the disadvantages and expanding the potential to positively impact student learning. For innovative, individualized, student-driven classrooms, single-point rubrics offer a powerful and adaptable tool.
Resources, Research, and Credits:
- Colleague: Christina Melly (Ritenour High School): https://goo.gl/LP33h3
- Colleague: Amanda Robins (Poplar Bluff Excel Center): https://goo.gl/uB5Qpm and https://goo.gl/kbdWje
- Jennifer Gonzalez: Cult of Pedagogy https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/single-point-rubric/
- Habits of ELA: https://habitsofela.wordpress.com/2017/10/07/my-experience-with-the-single-point-rubric/
- Edutopia: 6 Reasons to Try a Single Point Rubric: https://www.edutopia.org/article/6-reasons-try-single-point-rubric
- Thinking 101: Aaron Blackwelder: https://mrblackwelder.wordpress.com/2017/01/24/the-single-point-rubric/
- Competency Works: The Single Point Mastery Rubric: https://www.competencyworks.org/resources/the-single-point-mastery-rubric/
- The Journal of Writing Assessment: http://journalofwritingassessment.org/article.php?article=126
- Tech & Learning: https://www.techlearning.com/tl-advisor-blog/5-ways-ive-redesigned-my-rubric-and-you-should-too
- University of Nebraska: https://digitalcommons.unomaha.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1004&context=tedfacpub
- The Art of Education: https://theartofeducation.edu/2016/11/17/single-point-rubrics/
- Brilliant or Insane: http://www.brilliant-insane.com/2014/10/single-point-rubric.html
- History Tech: https://historytech.wordpress.com/2018/10/17/single-point-rubrics-and-checkmark-make-your-life-easier-your-kids-smarter/
- Pernille Ripp: https://pernillesripp.com/2019/02/24/using-the-single-point-rubric-for-better-assessment-conversations/
- Hacking Assessment by Starr Sackstein