One of the most confusing and demoralizing academic experiences is receiving an assignment back with a lackluster grade and very few comments or corrections. To the student, the teacher seems to have pulled the grade out of the clear blue sky, and learning tends to suffer as a result. Rubrics are a simple and effective way to prevent these situations. Rubrics make the teacher’s goals clear and offer guidance to students. Read on to learn how to reap these benefits in a homeschool environment.

Defining the Instructional Rubric

An instructional rubric is a chart that defines different performance levels, from poor to excellent, for an assignment. A rubric delineates the essential components, or criteria, of the student’s work. The premise of rubrics is that assessment and learning are inseparable. Rubrics then are the springboard for learning: “The starting place for all effective instruction is designing and communicating clear learning goals” (Marzano, 2009).

Benefits of Rubrics

According to Grant Wiggins, EdD, and president of authentic education, rubrics offer three primary benefits: they set clear standards of proficiency for students and for teachers to use as goals, they hold students accountable to specific standards, and they facilitate assessment by providing teachers guidelines by which to evaluate students’ learning. Whether in a classroom or homeschool setting, rubrics can also help in the following ways:

  • Make grades meaningful
  • Offer feedback to students on strengths and weaknesses
  • Yield more consistent grading
  • Provide valuable information to help instructors improve

How to Create Rubrics

Rubrics can be especially helpful for homeschoolers because they encourage objective grading and can help ensure that the student is achieving at grade-appropriate levels. While you can create your own rubric, you can save yourself time by pulling a sample rubric from the Internet and then modifying it according to your needs. Make sure you address the essential components of the assignment and define different levels of proficiency.

Tips for Using Rubrics Effectively

To ensure that your use of rubrics facilitates learning in the homeschool setting, follow these tips:

  • Use student-friendly terms. For a rubric to provide unequivocally clear direction to your homeschooler, the language should be jargon-free and appropriate for the student’s learning level.
  • Be consistent from column to column. The language you use to describe your expectations should be parallel from one column to the next. For instance, if you talk about “not having” something in one column, then you should talk about “having” something in another.
  • Describe with detail. Don’t use sweeping words like “excellent” or include arbitrary numbers (e.g., “must include five direct quotes.”) Instead, try to describe in as much detail as possible what you want in the assignment.
  • Introduce and explain the rubric. You might briefly describe the purpose of the rubric and explain its importance as a learning tool. You can also run through the expectations with your homeschooler to clarify any confusion.

In Short

Rubrics may require more time and effort of homeschool teachers, but the results are well worth it. Using rubrics in a homeschool setting can help objectively assess the student’s learning, encourage accountability, and give the student clear and transparent learning goals. For more information on tailoring curriculum in alternative education settings, request a free information kit from K12 today.


Image via Flickr by GoodNCrazy

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