The other day while planning a project, my co-teacher said to me, “I’ll let you design the rubric…I know you’re into that sort of thing.”

Sample of a finished rubric

She’s got a point – anyone that knows me as an educator knows that I am very “into” rubrics.  I love them. A lot.   They really are the perfect tool for making sure that you, your students and your students’ parents are all on the same page.

Want to design an awesome rubric?  Follow my easy steps below, and use the free template at the bottom of the page to input your own information!


Column 1: “Goal”

Copy and paste the goal from whatever standards your school uses.

Who does it help?

The first column is meant to help parents and other teachers.  It says exactly what standard the project is hitting.  So when parents find their dining room table overtaken with a tri-fold board and modeling clay, they can look at the rubric and see exactly what academic standard their child is working on.

Also, any other teachers who are using the project or who are helping out students with it can see exactly what the purpose

What do I do?

For this column, I simply copy and paste the standard straight from the Common Core website. Having trouble figuring out what standards your project aligns to?  This might mean you need to review your project.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE project-based learning, but the key word in that phrase is “learning.”  If you can’t find any standards that the project or assignment is aligning to, it might be more of an activity.

Column 2:  “Requirements”

Here is an example of how I align the requirements to the goal

Who does it help?

This column will help you and the students.  In this column, I unpack the standard and list (usually with bullets) the exact things I would like students to do to demonstrate their mastery of the standard.

Students deserve to know exactly what is expected of them.  Also, we all know that the Common Core standards are a little…vague.  If you tell a student to “analyze an author’s word choice” they may be confused on what exactly they’re supposed to do.

This column is also my key to grading.  I usually just zip down this column and use it as a checklist to make sure my students have thoroughly demonstrated mastery.

What do I do?

This is the column that takes the most thought, because here I really need to unpack the standard.  For example, if I know I want the project to assess students’ understanding of theme, I need to think about what I would like students to actually complete.  Let’s say I know I want students to create a monument; I might add a requirement of writing a paragraph that could stand as a plague in front of the monument that specifically states the theme.

It is important not to assume that students will know what the standard means and will know how to demonstrate mastery of it!

Column 3: “Points Possible”

Who does it help?

This column is helpful for you and for students.  Again, I’m a firm believer in not trying to “trick” students – I want them to know exactly what I expect from them.  Having points already dictated cuts back on any hard-to-have conversations after students get back scores that they don’t feel are fair.

What do I do?

When determining points, I usually just go through the requirements and assign one point per requirement.  However, sometimes I give myself leeway by offering 2-3 points per requirement.  This way if a student showed some understanding of a concept, but didn’t completely master it she can still earn some credit.

Column 4:  “Points Earned and Comments”

Who does it help?

My students love the clear cut feedback provided in this column.  Also, it is great for parents because it breaks down exactly how a student scored.

What do I do?

I like to always give comments when a student doesn’t earn full credit – whether it’s writing a note on what they missed or circling the missing requirement.  If I want a student to improve, I need to give valuable feedback

Download a free, easy-to-customize template for my rubrics here!

What are your tips for creating easy rubrics?  I’d love for you to share them!