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Journal for Effective Schools

Volume 11, Number 1

How to Create and Use Rubrics for Formative Assessment and Grading Susan M. Brookhart Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development, 2013 $27.95, 158 pages Reviewed by Leslie S. Kaplan, School Administrator (retired) Newport News Public Schools, Newport News, VA and William A. Owings, Professor of Educational Leadership Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA Who hasn’t walked into a classroom and seen highly engaged students involved in a “learning activity” that was fun, interesting, cross-disciplinary, and collaborative – but which had little cognitive value? And, when observing a lesson, who at least once hasn’t found teachers and students working from “rubrics” that were more lists of directions for activities or means to generate grades rather than as links to the intellectual concepts or complex skills that the curriculum standards were intended to deliver? These questions are rhetorical, but in the Common Core era amid widespread policy and practitioner interest in effective teaching, here’s one that isn’t: How do educators help teachers design and conduct learning that deepens and extends students’ thinking and academic production? Susan M. Brookhart, a former K-12 teacher, teacher educator, scholar and author, proposes using well-designed and appropriate rubrics to help teachers teach, coordinate instruction and assessment, and help students learn. In her new book, How to Create and Use Rubrics for Formative Assessment and Grading, Brookhart defines a rubric as a “coherent set of criteria for students’ work that includes descriptions of a performance quality on the criteria” – a definition, Brookhart asserts, that is rarely evident in practice. Well-designed and appropriate rubrics clarify the qualities students’ work should have, clearly identify the learning targets and the criteria for success, and provide performance-level descriptions to help students (and their teachers) understand what the desired performance is and what it looks like. When used formatively, rubrics can show students what they need to do next in order to enhance the quality of their performance. 84

Journal for Effective Schools - Spring 2013  
Journal for Effective Schools - Spring 2013  

Vol. 11, #1