Rating Items

Item Types

Items that have one correct answer such as multiple-choice, matching, true-false items are generally considered objective test items, while items or tasks, to which a variety of responses can be correct are considered subjective. For more information about the degrees of objectivity and rating of tasks, see the Evaluation: Process page. Responses to subjective items can be rated using a rubri c.


While reading and listening assessment items can be graded quickly and objectively (i.e., there is only one right answer), writing and speaking items require more consideration, since a variety of correct responses is possible and decisions must be made about which responses are considered correct and how the quality of the response will impact the rating.

Rubrics allow teachers to evaluate their students' performace through a series of set points along a continuum of criteria. Using a rubric helps teachers be more objective in their grading processes and helps students understand what areas of their performance need attention.

Rubrics can be found in the Virtual Assesssment Center's Continuous Improvement module.

Sample Rubric

Assume that you want to assess whether the students in your first year class are able to use the phrases and vocabulary they have learned in a unit that includes family, professions, appearance, and greetings and closings for e-mails.

You ask them to write an e-mail about their families to an e-pal you correspond with through school. The task you decide on looks like this:

Write an e-mail to your e-pal that tells about your family. Include what family members do, their ages, where they live and anything else you want your e-pal to know about your family. Be sure to use an appropriate greeting and closing. Write at least seven sentences and remember you can write about any family you wish to.

According to the ACTFL guidelines, novice level writers are able to supply simple biographical information and can write simple paragraphs using memorized or very familiar material. A description of the ACTFL Guidelines can be found on the ACTFL website.


Meets expectations

Not there yet

Greeting and closing

Uses greetings and closings appropriately.

Greeting or closing or both are missing or incorrect.

Talks about family members

Information about family provides a pictures of the family members.

The information about all or most of the family members is not enough to picture them.


Uses much learned vocabulary to tell about family members.

Uses little or incorrect or native language vocabulary to tell about family.

Uses sentences

Uses sentences to tell about family.

Uses some sentences and/or phrases single words.

Online samples and additional resources for developing rubrics can be found in the Virtual Assesssment Center's Continuous Improvement module.

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