Jump to content

Menu

Rubrics: the Lazy Teacher's Guide to Assessment?


Recommended Posts

Pardon me while I rant for a minute.  My middle child has been home schooled until we put her into a small private Christian high school this year.  I thought the smaller, more nurturing environment would be a good transition for her.  Nurturing, my hiney.  Apparently the teachers are so busy grading that they can not actually teach anything.  I spend more time teaching her now than I did when she was home schooled.  When a teacher grades an essay, for example, and that grade is calculated by adding up the points on a rubric, would it kill you to ALSO mark up the essay?  Are red pens extinct?  All of those editing marks we learned in high school--could you break them out once in a while?  Scribble a note in the margin?  Is it really "teaching" to assign a grade with no feedback on how to correct your errors?  

 

My daughter's first essay was given a D, and deservedly so--it was atrocious.  The teacher's only comment to her was, "It was a little all over the place."  Seriously--that's all ya' got?  I ripped it apart and now work extensively with her on every assignment, and her grades (and her writing, more importantly) are better, but still--I am not being paid for this any more.  She made an 89 on an in-class essay recently, and the only note was, "Direct quotations would have given you an A."  Possibly that was something the teacher could have mentioned in oh, I don't know--the instructional part of the class hour?  Except that it turns out that there is no instruction.  And these are the only two note she has received this entire semester.  EVERYthing else has been a rubric.  She just completed an in-class presentation and received an 80--with zero feedback on what she could have done better.  This is my super-literal kid--she is not going to see what other students did better, compare her presentation to theirs and know how to do better next time. 

 

Her history class is just as bad; the teacher is so busy giving quizzes that he can not possibly teach anything.  He dumped a bunch of source documents on them the night before a test, and they were heavy-duty reading:  the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation, among others.  Really, the night before the test?  How does that promote any sort of understanding or long-term retention?

 

I can not believe we are paying $12,000+/year for this nonsense.  I don't expect to LOVE any school; I've seen behind the curtain, and educating a child is not a mystery to me.  But I would like to like it, and I just do not.

 

But the whole point of this rant is this:  when your students receive grades on assignments graded according to a rubric, do they receive just the points assigned in the categories, or is there also some specific feedback that accompanies the rubric?  Am I asking for too much?  I know English teachers have a lot of papers to grade, but to me, the answer to that is obvious:  assign fewer papers until you can keep up with grading them.

 

I'm so annoyed (in case that was unclear) and just want my money back. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I our co-op we use rubrics--but also make comments on the work.

 

I agree with you, totally. When I was in sixth grade my teacher had us do a weekly theme. We were graded but there was no feedback. I remember sitting there wondering how I could get a better grade like my friend did. I suppose I could have asked, but it seems like that should be the teacher's responsibility.

Link to post
Share on other sites

My DD hasn't been in school since 4th grade, but when there was a rubric on the assignment, the rubric was on the assignment sheet, not a surprise later. You could look at the chart in advance, so you'd know a book report needs four quotes, for example. A good use of rubrics is to give kids a checklist of things to do before they decide they're done.

Link to post
Share on other sites

But the whole point of this rant is this: when your students receive grades on assignments graded according to a rubric, do they receive just the points assigned in the categories, or is there also some specific feedback that accompanies the rubric? .

I don't think I've ever seen a rubric without additional written feedback, either on the essay/report/whatever or on the rubric paper.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I use rubrics, but hand them out along with the assignment and add a plethora of red marks (both positive and negative) to the paper itself.  I couldn't imagine sending a paper back without a LOT of feedback.

Link to post
Share on other sites

When I grade free response with a rubric, I give comments. My poor precalc students are going to think something bled all over their proofs this week.

 

What private school around here did you find for that cheap? When we looked into them, they were all $20,000+. You don't have to answer that.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well it appears to be unanimous.  Now I have to decide whether to ask (or have my daughter ask) for more details.  There's nothing like going into a new school and getting an early rep as that crazy former homeschool mom.

Welcome to my world. 

 

Not high school related but had to chime in here...

 

Teachers at my dds' new schools knew when I interviewed them last spring that I was a homeschool mom on a mission. 

 

They seem to appreciate my questions and welcome having parents who genuinely care.

 

 

 

Re rubrics...As a parent new to public school/common core, I love rubrics.  Very clear what teachers want and if students meet/miss the mark.

 

HTH!

 

(edited out tasteless, braggy sentence) 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome to my world. 

 

Not high school related but had to chime in here...

 

Teachers at my dds' new schools knew when I interviewed them last spring that I was a homeschool mom on a mission. 

 

They seem to appreciate my questions and welcome having parents who genuinely care.

 

My dds are helping tutor kids in their classes already.  Miles ahead of their peers.  So the teachers love us.  We give homeschooling a good rep.

 

Re rubrics...As a parent new to public school/common core, I love rubrics.  Very clear what teachers want and if students meet/miss the mark.

 

HTH!

 

Well good for you.  Clearly I am bringing down the average.

 

This is not my first kid to go to a B&M high school, but it is my first time with this kid and with this school.  I emailed her teacher last night and asked how my daughter is supposed to know how to do better the next time; I will report back if I hear anything, 'cause I know y'all are dying to know.

 

I know; this is one grade, but the semester is half-way over, and this is clearly a pattern.  This is only a second-year teacher, apparently--I'm sure she is thrilled to have such a concerned parent.  'Cause we all know that if there's something teachers and administrators just LOVE, it is having their judgment questioned by someone who is not a professional educator.  (And yes, I was told exactly that once--that, since I am not a professional educator, my opinion meant nothing.  The next year, the principal  who told me that was fired, which delighted me to no end, because then SHE wasn't a professional educator, either!)

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Well good for you.  Clearly I am bringing down the average.

 

 

 

I'm so sorry that what I wrote came across as discouraging.  That wasn't my intention.  I was trying (albeit poorly) to illustrate that being an intense former homeschool mom is ok. (My dds are younger entering school -- not high school like your daughter.)

 

That's a big jump from homeschooling to formal high school with multiple teachers to navigate -- and transition will take time. 

 

Ask your questions. You are paying a small fortune for that education. 

 

My older dc transitioned out of homeschooling into 9th grade private.  It took time to get the hang of it.  For all of us.

 

I am curious to hear how the teacher replies to your question last night.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm so sorry that what I wrote came across as discouraging.  That wasn't my intention.  I was trying (albeit poorly) to illustrate that being an intense former homeschool mom is ok. (My dds are younger entering school -- not high school like your daughter.)

 

That's a big jump from homeschooling to formal high school with multiple teachers to navigate -- and transition will take time. 

 

Ask your questions. You are paying a small fortune for that education. 

 

My older dc transitioned out of homeschooling into 9th grade private.  It took time to get the hang of it.  For all of us.

 

I am curious to hear how the teacher replies to your question last night.

 

Oh, you did not come across as discouraging, but your experience with your school and your experience with the school should not reflect either negatively or positively on the homeschooling community at large.  My daughter's experience in her English class has nothing to do with her have been home schooled and everything to do with a young, inexperienced teacher's failure to provide appropriate instruction.  I don't doubt, however, that my trouble-making and any deficiencies in her academic performance will be attributed to home schooling.  

Link to post
Share on other sites

A rubric is a form of feedback; there are categories with expectations and the score is calculated by where the performance fell within those expectations. Your daughter is in high school; she should be able to approach her teacher and to ask her teacher to provide additional follow up feedback.

 

As far as the quizzing history teacher, I would also suggest that perhaps you don't have all the information regarding the assignments and the quizzes. It is easy to think our kid's perception of how the school day went is accurate and fair-minded; however, often the retelling is biased to emphasize workload and injustice.

 

I think you are far better off asking the teacher directly before you decide to pull her from the school over it.

 

I disagree with your solution to the teacher's grading efficiency: to simply assign fewer papers and give more feedback. To improve writing, the student needs both quantity of opportunity to practice writing and specific, guided feedback. It is very difficult to teach more than twenty students total and provide specific, guided feedback and meet the quantity of opportunity which a student should also have; furthermore, an argument could be made for the need for the student to begin taking a more active role as editor of her own work. Perhaps a critique like the argument is all over the place could be an opportunity for the student to go back and reduce her paper to an outline and make sure she is indeed making a logical progression. She won't benefit from the teacher outlining the argument for her; it's not going to improve her understanding if the teacher does the revision brainstorming. If revisiting her outline or other such solutions are not ones your daughter readily thinks of on her own, then she probably needs to take the initiative to meet with the teacher and to ask how to correct the areas that the teacher is trying to get her to see.

 

It sounds a little bit like you are assuming the teachers are simply incompetent and purposefully shirking their career goal of improving your daughter's understanding. Perhaps that is the case, but I don't think I would start with these conclusions.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I would not necessarily take these things as a sign that the teacher is lazy.   She may very well be doing what she has been told is good, effective teaching and grading.  She may have been told:

 

1)  Don't mark in red ink all over the students' papers. When students see red ink they think that something, they take it as negative and shut down.

2)  Don't mark grammar, spelling errors, etc.  It will get in the way of students' creativity.

3)  Use a rubric to provide objective feedback that the student doesn't take personally.  No student wants to see "I don't understand this part."  It will make them feel bad.  A rubric is stated in the positive, such as "Student provides a clear description of... "  Even if a student receives a low score for that part of the rubric, a positive message is sent.

 

I am NOT saying I agree with these; I am just saying that they are things things being held up as good teaching in some circles.

Link to post
Share on other sites

A rubric is a form of feedback; there are categories with expectations and the score is calculated by where the performance fell within those expectations. Your daughter is in high school; she should be able to approach her teacher and to ask her teacher to provide additional follow up feedback.  â€‹[she did--that is the only way she got the "it was a little all over the place" on the 64. ] 

 

As far as the quizzing history teacher, I would also suggest that perhaps you don't have all the information regarding the assignments and the quizzes. It is easy to think our kid's perception of how the school day went is accurate and fair-minded; however, often the retelling is biased to emphasize workload and injustice.  [The teacher confirmed this when i emailed to say, "Am I understanding this correctly?  Is X looking everywhere she is supposed to?  We are new to the school and just want to make sure she is not missing something."]

 

I think you are far better off asking the teacher directly before you decide to pull her from the school over it.  [These experiences are some of the factors we will consider when deciding to reenroll next year.  I'm not sure what is wrong with that.]

 

I disagree with your solution to the teacher's grading efficiency: to simply assign fewer papers and give more feedback. To improve writing, the student needs both quantity of opportunity to practice writing and specific, guided feedback. [Exactly--some specific, guided feedback during the semester would be wonderful.  Glad we agree on that.]  It is very difficult to teach more than twenty students total and provide specific, guided feedback and meet the quantity of opportunity which a student should also have; furthermore, an argument could be made for the need for the student to begin taking a more active role as editor of her own work. Perhaps a critique like the argument is all over the place could be an opportunity for the student to go back and reduce her paper to an outline and make sure she is indeed making a logical progression. [Then perhaps the teacher could have said, "You need to outline."  That would be teaching; opining that it was all over the place is criticizing the result, not teaching towards a better result next time.]  She won't benefit from the teacher outlining the argument for her; it's not going to improve her understanding if the teacher does the revision brainstorming. [Not sure why you think I would expect the teacher to outline or revise FOR her?]  If revisiting her outline or other such solutions are not ones your daughter readily thinks of on her own, then she probably needs to take the initiative to meet with the teacher and to ask how to correct the areas that the teacher is trying to get her to see.  [She has asked for this; I can see the message on her online school account.  She did this without any suggestion from me after she got her first paper back; the teacher never responded to her.  That kind of broke my heart. ] 

 

It sounds a little bit like you are assuming the teachers are simply incompetent and purposefully shirking their career goal of improving your daughter's understanding. [I think this because there has been zero teaching of writing in this class.  I know my post was long--perhaps you missed that part.  That was the whole point--there has been a lot of assessing and not much teaching.]  Perhaps that is the case, but I don't think I would start with these conclusions.  

 

I am going to go out on a limb here and say that you were a teacher in a former life.  I will say that this experience has made my daughter much more willing to take instruction from me.  One of the reasons we enrolled her in school is that, for the sake of our relationship, someone else needed to tell her that her writing was awful.  I just also expected that that someone else would help me teach her how to improve.

 

I did email the teacher, and she responded that there are comments on the rubrics that perhaps I can't see.  I can see them; that is how I know about the one on direct quotations.  She also, and it was obvious from a comment made in my daughter's home room the next day, shared my comments (which were polite--no ranting) with the administration, which then shared them with every teacher.  LOVELY.   

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think rubrics are great. They are not a lazy teacher's way out of grading papers. Rubrics provide kids with the expectations for the paper such as include a direct quote. Rubrics take a great deal of time to make, and honestly they make me plan lessons to teach to the goal. That being said - I always, always, always write comments on the kids' papers. I also schedule writing conferences with each child in my class. I am lucky to work in a homeschool c-op where I can cap my class at 12, so I have time to meet with each kid for at least three - five minutes per paper. It is not much time, but it is all I have.

 

However, my own children have received papers back without any comments written on them at all. Even in college classes some professors provide no feedback; I tell my kids to make an appointment during office hours. I suggest your daughter emails (put it in writing) that she wants to discuss how she can improve her papers. She should cc on you the email. You should not go to the meeting, but you should encourage your daughter to write down everything that is said. Then she should follow up with an email saying per our discussion today... you suggest that I need to .... in my paper. I appreciate your advice. This way you are creating paper trail and teaching your daughter how to be proactive and solve her own problems. 

 

Best of luck. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think rubrics are great. They are not a lazy teacher's way out of grading papers. Rubrics provide kids with the expectations for the paper such as include a direct quote. Rubrics take a great deal of time to make, and honestly they make me plan lessons to teach to the goal. That being said - I always, always, always write comments on the kids' papers. I also schedule writing conferences with each child in my class. I am lucky to work in a homeschool c-op where I can cap my class at 12, so I have time to meet with each kid for at least three - five minutes per paper. It is not much time, but it is all I have.

 

However, my own children have received papers back without any comments written on them at all. Even in college classes some professors provide no feedback; I tell my kids to make an appointment during office hours. I suggest your daughter emails (put it in writing) that she wants to discuss how she can improve her papers. She should cc on you the email. You should not go to the meeting, but you should encourage your daughter to write down everything that is said. Then she should follow up with an email saying per our discussion today... you suggest that I need to .... in my paper. I appreciate your advice. This way you are creating paper trail and teaching your daughter how to be proactive and solve her own problems.

 

Best of luck.

She did email the teacher. The teacher did not respond. My daughter never told me she emailed the teacher, but I can see the email and the lack of a response. That seems to me to be a pretty telling paper trail.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...