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Show Us Your #SinglePointRubric


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The practice of using single point rubrics is slowly but surely catching on. The simplicity of these rubrics — with just a single column of criteria, rather than a full menu of performance levels — offers a whole host of benefits:

Want to Learn More?

I first talked about this type of rubric in an earlier post (Know Your Terms: Holistic, Analytic, and Single-Point Rubrics), and again in a post I wrote for Brilliant or Insane (Your Rubric is a Hot Mess; Here’s How to Fix It). If this is the first time you’ve encountered this type of rubric, reading both of these will give you some background knowledge on all the different types of rubrics and why the single-point deserves world domination.

Show Us Your Rubrics!

I urge you to take one of your most convoluted rubrics and make a single-point version of it. Then show it to the world, so other teachers can learn: Take a screenshot of it and post the picture on Twitter with the hashtag #singlepointrubric. If you aren’t on Twitter or don’t feel like doing this, just send a picture or a copy to me through my contact form. Help us start a movement to rid the world of ineffective rubrics!


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  1. Mrs.D says:

    Hi Jennifer,
    I am new to your website and I am loving it! Thank you for posting this article. The idea of a single point rubrics is revolutionary and new to me; just reading about it makes me feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I have often wondered how much my second graders are really absorbing when we go over the rubrics I provide them with. Despite my best attempts to make them child friendly they seem wordy and overwhelming. I have also often questioned why I provide students with ‘markers for failure’ instead of wholly focusing their attention on what I want them to strive for and attain. I love the open-ended areas provided to comment on areas of concern and areas where a child has excelled. Using regular rubrics, I find that often I am trying to jam in comments regarding a student’s’ performance that are not outlined in my rigid prescribed rubrics; the single point rubrics provides me with open-ended areas to comment on these clearly and without limiting by thoughts to items only described in the rubrics. The single point rubrics is definitely a tool that I will be implementing in my classroom. Thank you again!

    • Hi Michelle!
      You know what? I forgot all about jamming comments into the fuller rubrics. I did the exact same thing. Ridiculous! That’s such a huge sign of the rubric language being insufficient for giving feedback. Why have it there in the first place if we feel the need to explain anyway? I’m so glad you like this idea. I would love to see a copy of your first attempt!

  2. exarizm says:

    How do you grade it?

    • Thanks for the question!

      I think this kind of rubric works best for ongoing assessment, for assignments where students have the opportunity to re-submit with improvements. If you needed to justify a point score, though, you could add a range of points to each column. So for a 100 point assignment, the top of the center column could say something like “85-94 points,” the left could say “0-84 points,” and the right could say “95-105 points” or something in those ranges. I would probably add an extra row right underneath the top row that contained those ranges.

      Then when you grade an assignment, if you end up writing a whole lot of comments in that left column, then the score would be lower in that 0-84 range, whereas if there was just one minor comment, it would be about an 83 or 84. Similarly, if there’s a lot in the right-hand column, the score would be at or slightly above 100. The goal would be to get every student to 84 or above — within target range or better — and so in the best of cases, the student would use the “needs improvement” feedback to actually make improvements. Does that sound like it would work?

  3. I developed this ‘anti-rubric’ for many of the same reasons you share here. I wrote a blog post about it as well. It’s more of a checklist, but the columns are there for feedback, and also for fixing anything that needs fixing, by whom, by when, etc, to be used mainly for accountability in group projects.

    It is meant to be used electronically in google environments, so all you need to do is make a copy for yourself and adapt it.
    and below a link to the actual tool.

  4. Jennifer says:

    I saw a mention of your single point rubric via Twitter and edcampKY. I think this might be a game changer for me. I’ve been working on how to provide better feedback to AP students on writing FRQs and DBQs. Using your template I think I’ve got a rubric I can work with in the fall.

    • Fantastic! I would love to see it. Some people have actually posted pictures of theirs on Twitter with the #singlepointrubric hashtag. If you were so inclined, it would be wonderful. I think the more often people see examples, the better they can imagine doing the same for themselves. Thanks for letting me know!

  5. Hi,
    I’m a teacher and App developer. I’ve developed an Android app called Rubric Scorer, I really liked readying about single point rubrics and was wondering if there were any online scoring programs to support single point rubrics. I was thinking I may develop an Android App for scoring and giving feedback for single point rubrics, but thought I’d see what the interest would be in this. Thanks.

  6. Hello all.
    I (and many of my fellow teachers) have been eagerly using the single-point-rubric in our classrooms. It has improved the communication with students about their progress. As our district looks ahead to standards based assessment (non number/letter grading), we have been doing a lot of research around methods to evaluate student learning. Using this sort of tool, allows for a more substantial understanding of how students are progressing with the standards and their goals. Attaching a number/letter grade to this type of assessment seems to miss the point. It is a tool I use to show growth and achievement of goals.

    One evolution to consider for the single-point rubric is to not have the advanced/exceeding column. The idea comes via Rick Wormeli. I learned from his work that once a student “masters” a standard (the center point/column in the rubric), they should move on to another standard or a more complex variation of the same standard. The right column could therefore be the teacher’s or student’s reflection on how they met the standard or their next steps and possible goals. Being “advanced” or “excelling” at a standard is just an unnecessary evaluation; the student met the standard, that should be good enough.

    If anyone is considering a move toward standards based assessment, you should read “On Your Mark: Challenging the Conventions of Grading and Reporting” by Thomas R. Guskey. He uses data and analysis to discuss how grades (numbers, letters and even rubrics) are subjective and even harmful. It is an amazing, eye-opening book. Also, check out the “Cult of Pedagogy” podcast episode 13.
    I would love to hear other’s experiences and thoughts. Thank you Jennifer for this great site.

    • Nate, thank you for this insight. The idea of removing an “exceeds standards” category is kind of revolutionary, but I get it. Do you have any models or samples you might share of what it looks like when a student moves on to a more complex variation of the same standard? Is there any documentation that accompanies that progression…? Some sort of goal-setting or description of how the student plans to push past the standard? Is it discussed between student and teacher? I would like more information on the nuts and bolts of this variation.

    • Nate,

      Thank you for your comments about the exceeds category. I have also contemplated this part of my rubrics. What I like about this category is that students are reinforced for the exemplary skills they are using. They may not meet the exemplary status on all skills within a writing assignment. However, I think there is power in reinforcing the positive skills that writers are using. Having a column for that is necessary. Since the standards progress from grade level to grade level, would you have an entirely different middle category for some students? I’m also interesting in seeing how this would look. Have you found any examples?

  7. I’ve been using single-point rubrics with my adult ESL learners for a while now and polishing them a bit. I love them and my students love them. I used to work for a school that used extremely dense rubrics–at advanced levels they might have 6 or 7 areas of assessment and 5 grade levels. With 30 boxes, to look at students’ eyes went straight to the final grade. I also had some very clever students who would add up points to figure out how to do the minimum to get an acceptable grade. For example, they’d see that they could miss the length requirement by quite a bit and do a 2 sentence conclusion, as long as they had perfect spelling and grammar. Now my rubrics don’t tell them how to squeak by.

    I did put a few templates, including some sample rubrics for essays aligned to the CEFR standards for ESL, up at my Teachers Pay Teachers Store: I don’t know if I’ve done anything overly revolutionary with it except added directions so students know exactly how the system works.

    People did ask about how to grade with it and I like your solution of a range. What I like to do is assign points to each area of assessment and tell students that they get 80% of the points if they meet the standard. That leaves me room to reward advanced students and take points off for students who need more work. It’s not a perfect system, but students seem to like it.

    • How cool! I’m excited to see you have really run with this idea and that it’s working well for you. I never thought about students trying to “game the system” by looking at where they can slack on a rubric, but it’s an excellent point. Thanks for sharing, Walton.

  8. Hi everyone. Debbie suggested I add my version of a single point rubric here. I got to help some new psychology teachers at a career academy design a way to provide feedback to students on their research projects. These were big. semester long projects, and this feedback form worked well I think. Thanks for the single point rubric idea!

  9. Has anyone found an efficient way to fill out a single-point rubric online and return it to students?

    • Marlene, the best way I can think of would be through Google Classroom; it allows teachers to create a single document, then distribute copies to the whole class at once. When that’s set up, you can then go into every student’s individual file and enter your feedback into their rubric.

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