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Time to rethink elementary school rubrics

New York Teacher

From my experience, I don’t believe the use of rubrics has been all that helpful on the elementary school level. I am not arguing against the use of rubrics in order to incorporate professional standards, or their use by professionals to evaluate student work, or as a tool to inform parents about expectations, but I believe rubrics have been overused and are frequently ineffective for young students.

For any individual to objectively evaluate their own work, a degree of persistence, patience, stamina and thick skin is needed. Not every young child has this capacity. Of course, these are goals we want to achieve with our young learners, but I am unsure that rubrics and the manner in which they are currently used elevate this device as an ideal tool.

Frequently, rubrics are either created by students or handed to them by their teachers. The scoring system and its parallel requirements are refined and carefully reviewed. However, rarely is there time, or a substantial degree of student confidence and stamina, to objectively self-evaluate and then self-correct according to the rubric standards. I have seen a great deal of discussion time in classrooms about what a poor product looks like. I believe we should be introducing our students only to what an excellent product looks like.

I think it is time for professionals to rethink rubric strategies, use them more sparingly and brainstorm new devices that move students along the continuum of academic responsibility.

Carol Oxman, retired


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