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Speed Up Grading with Rubric Codes


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Do you have a mountain of student writing to grade? A pile of extended responses that have been sitting in your passenger seat for a week? Do you wish you had more time to give students better feedback?

This video shows you how to use rubric codes—a small twist on grading student writing that keeps the feedback but cuts way down on the time. If you’re getting way behind on your grading, this may be just what you need.


Need Ready-Made Rubrics?

My Rubric Pack gives you four different designs in Microsoft Word and Google Docs formats. It also comes with video tutorials to show you how to customize them for any need, plus a Teacher’s Manual to help you understand the pros and cons of each style. Check it out here:

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  1. Felicia Morrissey says:

    This is VERY useful! I sent the link to my supervisor and posting to my edmodo teacher group. Thank you! This is SO helpful @ midterm time in ELA world…

  2. I’m so glad to hear it! Let me know if you guys end up making any tweaks or learning any tips through trial and error, and whether it makes a difference in time! I tried to emphasize this in the video, but I think the whole-class reflection time after papers are returned is really key. Anyway, update us later, okay?

  3. shayneswift says:

    OK…this makes sense. What I usually do is go through the drafts with the personalized detailed feedback. Then when the final draft is done, then I just check of the score using the rubric. Students still want more feedback so I can use the rubric codes for the final draft and they can track it.

  4. shayneswift says:


  5. Adding this to my list of things to be thankful for! Thanks!

  6. Melba says:

    Any suggestions for using this rubric for grading math work?

    • I’m not very familiar with rubrics for math, mostly because I always assume that math teachers grade individual problems, rather than give more holistic assessments. I can see you using codes, however for common math issues. For example, if a student approached a math problem correctly, but just did the arithmetic wrong at some point, you could create some kind of two-letter code that alerts them that there’s a computation error (like CE) that you’d write beside it? If you’re interested in a rubric that would score homework on a larger scale (rather than calculating individual scores for each assignment), take a look at my free Homework Rubric: I have an Elementary and a Secondary version.

  7. Zodwa says:

    Excellent, I need to learn more. I am a teacher in South Africa.

  8. I am so, so happy that a colleague sent me your post on rubric codes! Although your post sat in an open tab in my browser for a month (I never got around to it), I’m kicking myself that I didn’t watch your 4-minute video the day that I received it!

    I’m a secondary ELA teacher who is halfway through grading a stack of capstone research papers, and while I have a system of detailed feedback that I like, I do not have the best time management skills with paper grading. I have always thought that being a good teacher meant giving detailed feedback on everything a student turns in for assessment–and it’s true! Student’s learn best from regular, detailed feedback–but it’s just not realistic. The system above allows me to give the same feedback without writing long, complete sentences. I also like that you put rubric codes where a student did well in green and rubric codes where a student needs work in red. Great, easy idea.

    I will definitely be trying this with my next rubric. Thank you so much!

  9. Kyle Prince says:

    How would rubric codes work for a single point rubric?

    • Debbie Sachs says:

      Hi Kyle! This is Debbie, a Customer Experience Manager with CoP. Rubric codes can absolutely work with the single-point rubric. I’d check out the post How To Turn Rubric Scores into Grades. There you’ll see how to assign points to a single-point rubric. The same concept can be used to assign rubric codes. For example, in the post you’ll see there are 3 criteria under Structure. You could assign the codes S1, S2, S3, or whatever you think would work best. I’d definitely give it a try!

  10. Hey,

    I love your podcast and blog. I get so many ideas from you that I felt like I could maybe say thank you by sending an idea your way (in case you hadn’t already thought of it). I stumbled across this while looking for ideas for one of my teachers looking for ways to improve their feedback while decreasing the amount of time they spend grading. I do something similar to rubric codes, but I use a text expander to actually insert a full comment, links to resources, and follow-up assessment on digital documents. Here’s a link that explains it more:

    Thanks for all the ideas over the years and for enhancing teaching and learning through your work. As an instructional coach, I can’t even tell you how much your work has helped me help other teachers.

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