Using a student-facing rubric to assess and evaluate students’ learning progression is highly valued in educational settings. Clear learning and evaluation metrics should be established and communicated, and a quality rubric can effectively serve this purpose. Nonetheless, creating effective rubrics and providing meaningful feedback can be challenging, and many educators, including myself, may struggle with this aspect of teaching.
After unit planning, prepping engaging activities, and differentiating tasks, taking the time to create a strong rubric for each task can be a challenge. Selecting pre-created rubrics and proficiency scales has often been my go-to, especially for larger summative assessments. Using these rubrics and scales can help with assessment reliability, while also providing clear and transparent benchmarks for student learning and proficiency. However, for some tasks, these large rubrics and scales seem to be a little extravagant for both the students and me.
This is where the simple creation of a single-point rubric can change the way you provide meaningful feedback in a student-friendly way.
A Single-Point Rubric – What is it?
A single-point rubric is a simplified rubric that clarifies the learning goals for a task or learning experience, as well as provides an easy entry point for student self- and peer-assessment (Dietz, 2000). This type of rubric is used for capturing assessment feedback, and not just as a grading tool.
Single-point rubrics often break down the learning targets and success criteria into smaller pieces, or more concrete tasks, so that students can clearly identify their strengths and areas for improvement.
These rubrics also give an option for layered feedback, starting with student self-assessment and building towards teacher feedback, when needed.
Adding a Linguistic Lens to your Rubric
A single-point rubric is an effective tool to support meaningful feedback on learning, and its use is not limited to only highlighting subject-area content. In a culturally and linguistically diverse classroom, the single-point rubric becomes an invaluable tool to help students and teachers identify student progression in both content learning, as well as language acquisition.
By taking an integrated learning goal – one which includes both the subject-area goal, as well as the linguistic demands of a task – and parsing it out into a single-point rubric, both the teacher and student can have clarity around the task expectations. Additionally, this allows both content and language to be assessed in meaningful ways and highlights areas where one or the other may be a barrier for student learning.
Secondary example rubric used with an Intermediate/Advanced language learner. Initial self-feedback is written by the student in black pen, the peer’s feedback is provided in blue, and the teacher’s final feedback is noted in pink.
By separating out the content and the language goals, the student has the ability to demonstrate their content understanding in multiple ways based on their language proficiency. In highlighting the language needed for the task, the rubric provides valuable evidence of a student’s language progression, as well as clarity on what type of language the student will need to interact with the task in a meaningful way.
Adapting for the early elementary classroom
The narrative portions of the single-point rubric lend themselves to utilization in an upper elementary or secondary class. With young learners in mind, these rubrics can also work in lower primary courses through the use of scaffolded interaction with the rubric content, as well as student-chosen emojis or numerical scales to self-assess learning.
As seen in the example below, the rubrics can support interdisciplinary learning connections. Notice the shading of the boxes indicate different areas of focus:
- subject-area targets, such as Science (white section),
- SEL or 21st Century Skills (green section),
- and literacy and language development (blue section) throughout all subject areas.
Elementary example rubric. Faces and numerical values were used by the student to self-assess their learning.
This type of rubric provides metrics for student learning in both content and language. The distinction between the two allows the teacher to find places where language may be a barrier to student learning or assessment. In a co-teaching environment, the content area teacher may be responsible for providing feedback in the content-specific portion of the rubric, while the language specialist focuses on the language used in the task. Alternatively, in an integrated classroom setting, both the student and teacher should be empowered to thoughtfully reflect on the content and language understanding and identify steps for improvement in both areas.
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