How to Create a Rubric For Any Subject

How to Create a Rubric For Any Subject
Rubrics are an essential part of the assessment and evaluation process. The achievement charts in the Ontario curriculum documents guide how all of our evaluations of student work should be compared. However, teacher-created rubrics are useful and valid. Here are my tips and suggestions for how to make a rubric for any subject.

Photo of blank rubric templates with text, "How to Create a Rubric For Any Subject"

What is a rubric?

A rubric is an assessment tool designed to objectively describe achievement across various levels. They are typically designed in a chart with the criteria in one column and varying degrees of competencies described in the subsequent columns, representing the levels of achievement. Rubrics can state precisely what performance at each level looks like, or they can be open with the teacher using a guide like the one below to assign levels to student work.

Photo of enlarged rubric scale

Why use rubrics?

Rubrics provide more depth than a single grade on an assignment. They break down tasks into the various components that may be evaluated and allow for an objective look at each part separately from the whole assignment. They also allow for easy cross-curricular integration of expectations. You can easily get reading and writing marks from the same piece when your expectations for students are clear!

For example, a student may have written a strong reading response in the area of using the text to support their thinking but may be lacking appropriate spelling and punctuation conventions for the grade. A rubric allows both criteria to be considered when a grade is assigned to the work.

Photo of sample completed rubric for reading response.

How to make a rubric

There are several things to consider when you're creating a rubric. It is important to consider whether you are assessing formative or summative student work. Let's break it down.

1. Decide on the criteria

The criteria, or what you're assessing, is the foundation of the rubric. Take the task or assignment you wish to evaluate and list the things you want your students to demonstrate they can do. 

Co-creating the criteria with your students is a good idea since it gives them a clear picture of what you expect from them. Regardless, sharing the requirements in advance is critical to student success.

Photo of sample rubric criteria.

If your mandated curriculum includes a rubric or achievement chart, use it as a guide as you identify your assessment criteria. You will want to be sure that you evaluate students on all parts of the achievement chart over the year.

2. Describe levels of achievement

Different districts require assessment across different levels. Here in Ontario, we use a four-point rubric or four levels of performance. A rubric can have levels that range from just complete/incomplete to multiple levels of mastery.

Photo of enlarged rubric scale.

In my classroom, I generally use the following:

limited, some, considerable/most, thorough/almost all
not yet, getting there, on track, exceeding expectations

I usually use the levels in the first list for rubrics that my students don't need to see, and the second list for rubrics I'll share with my students.

In a full rubric, you will take the criteria and describe what each looks like at every level of achievement. You can see an example of this in the 2020 Ontario Achievement Chart for Mathematics.

3. Try it out and revise if necessary

Before using your new tool to assess student work, try using it to evaluate one piece. Does it address all the goals you wanted to assess? Is it worded in a clear, objective way? Is there anything you need to adjust to better suit your needs?

4. Use the rubric to provide constructive feedback

Rubrics are useless if they don't provide students with information about their progress. Unless the rubric is part of a summative assessment, you should use it to share some next steps with your students.

I like to use completed rubrics to let my students know what criteria they should be proud of doing well and what they should work on next to continue to grow and improve their skills.

In my Reader's Notebook and Reading Response resource, I've included several editable rubrics with a full page of criteria ideas for assessing student work. You can grab that here:

Reader's Notebook and Reading Response Prompts resource

If you'd like some free editable rubric templates to get started with, click the image below.

Free rubric templates offer.

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