A rubric is a way to make criteria (or standards) explicit and it does that in writing so that there can be no misunderstanding.  It is found in many evaluative activities especially assessment of classroom work.  (Misunderstanding is still possible because the English language is often not clear–something I won’t get into today; suffice it to say that a wise woman said words are important–keep that in mind when crafting a rubric.)


This week there were many events that required rubrics. Rubrics may have been implicit; they certainly were not explicit.  Explicit rubrics were needed.


I’ll start with apologies for the political nature of today’s post.

Yesterday’s  activity of the US Senate is an example where a rubric would be valuable.  Gabby  Giffords said it best:  

Certainly, an implicit rubric for this event can be found in this statement:

  Only it was not used.  When there are clear examples of inappropriate behavior; behavior that my daughters’ kindergarten teacher said was mean and not nice, a rubric exists.  Simple rubrics are understood by five year olds (was that behavioir mean OR was that behavior nice).  Obviously 46 senators could only hear the NRA; they didn’t hear that the behavior (school shootings) was mean.

Boston provided us with another example of the mean vs. nice rubric.  Bernstein got the concept of mean vs. nice.

Music is nice; violence is mean.

Helpers are nice; bullying is mean. 

There were lots of rubrics, however implicit, for that event.    The NY Times reported that helpers (my word) ran TOWARD those in need not away from the site of the explosion (violence).   There were many helpers.  A rubric existed, however implicit.

I want to close with another example of a rubric: 

I’m no longer worked up–just determined and for that I need a rubric.  This image may not give me the answer; it does however give me pause.


For more information on assessment and rubrics see: Walvoord, B. E. (2004).  Assessment clear and simple.  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.



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