The importance of rubrics and assessments

What does it mean to assess?
  • Traditionally assessment has meant: The evaluation or estimation of the nature, quality, or ability of someone or something, and assessments have been given in a very standard format. Generally an assessment is a written test with multiple choice and open-ended questions. But, research is showing that this is not the best way to evaluate the understanding of our students. Therefore, it's important that we assess our students in a variety of different ways in order to really gage their level of understanding.
Why is it important to assess our students in a variety of ways?
"In the same way that a carpenter chooses a hammer to drive a nail and a saw to cut a board, the teacher chooses the right tool for each purpose...In short, it takes more than one form of assessment, or more than one tool, to gauge individual learning." -Chapman and King

Assessment should be on-going, and occur before, during, and after learning. Here are some strategies for differentiated assessments:

Before learning:
  • KWL charts
  • Pre-assessment survey: give students a survey to see how much they know well before beginning a new unit. The results will help plan for instruction.
  • Knowledge base corners: label the four corners of the room with the following titles: Not clue, I know a lot!, I know some, I've got it! When introducing a new topic have students "take a stand" in the corner that the represents how much they know about a given topic. (the titles in each corner can be changed to directly link with the curriculum, and to make age appropriate)
During learning:
  • Show and tell: use some of the following prompts with students to see how much they understand. Tell a partner, say the correct answer together, create a sample, draw it, give an example, write it, tell it, race to the answer on a chart, poster, or board.
After learning:
  • Open ended questions
  • Reflection Reactions: Students write a personal reflection about what they've learned about a given topic
  • checklists
  • rubrics (see below)
Additional strategies: (From "How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-Ability Classrooms" by Carol Ann Tomlinson)

The links below are examples of rubrics for a variety of different assessments or projects.

Benchmark assessments for various content areas (from a Wyoming public school district)
Rubric for a web project

These links help you generate your own rubrics to meet the needs of your students.

The rubric tutorial, or "how to" make a rubric.

Roobrix helps teachers accurately score their students' assignments when using a rubric.

Teachnology offers premade rubrics, as well as rubrics for different content areas and abilities

ASSESSMENTS AND ASSESSMENT TOOLS The links below provide examples of assessments and tools that can be used to assess students. These are not forms of traditional assessments.
Alternative assessments and resources:
 A collection of assessment strategies: