Aunt Olive's Rubric on Rubrics

by Ned Miller*







Assessment is useful and convenient to the learner from the beginning of the discussion about the task, and it concentrates all student energy on what is important to accomplish. Learners can understand the assessment and begin to use it before the task has begun. It focuses their energy on what it is important to accomplish. Assessment is available to learners at some point before the task is completed. Students can use it to get an idea of what is important to accomplish. Assessment not available to learner or learner cannot interpret or understand it.


Learners required to self-assess and are required to reflect and concentrate on quality of work. Learners encouraged to self-assess and reflect on quality of work. Learners are invited to self-assess, but may not reflect on quality. There is no promotion to self-assess or focus on quality.


Has explicit descriptors which allow the teacher to distinctly discriminate within a range of quality. (4 or 6 are ideal so no "middle" exists.) Has specific descriptors which allow the teacher to discriminate a range of quality which is limited to few enough so that discrimination is distinct (usually 3-7 levels). Has descriptors which help teacher measure specific items, but there may be too many items. No understandable descriptors.

Key Elements

Measures only vital elements which are critical to the task. No items of low consequence. Measures key elements which are essential to the task. Few items of low consequence. Meaningful items assessed, but may be of limited significance. Inappropriate items are assessed (due to ease of grading?).


An explicit set of objectives is measured. Understanding is a prerequisite to scoring well. Students cannot score well or poorly due to factors unrelated to objectives. A distinct set of objectives is measured. Students must understand the concepts to score well and will score well if they understand. Vague objectives may be present. Students who understand objectives tend to score higher. Students are uncertain as to what is expected. Assessment does not measure what it says it measures.


Different teachers grading the same task will get the same results. Different teachers grading the same task will get highly similar results. Teachers are guided to similar results. There is no consistency of results.

*Reproduced with the author's permission. Ned Miller credits the work of Grant Wiggins and Robert Marzano for influencing his thinking in the development of the "rubric on rubrics" and the rubric on task design.
**(Even the best assessments may need "calibration" where teachers can grade together and learn to produce a consistent product.


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