Understanding Rubric Grading

Sanborn Regional High School has used a competency-based grading and reporting system since 2010. During that time, teachers have used either a 100-point scale or a rubric-based scale to compute both competency and course grades for students in their classes. A rubric scale is different from a 100-point grading scale in the following ways:

With a traditional 100-point scale, all grades typically start at 100 percent and deductions are taken by the teacher for missing or incorrect components to arrive at a final percentage score. These deductions can vary from assignment to assignment and teacher to teacher, and depend on the expectations that are set for each assignment. Many students think of this system as one in which they must accumulate a certain number of points over time to reach a passing (proficient) or high (exceeding) grade.

A rubric is a chart that lists the criteria and a variety of levels that describe proficiency over the length of a course. Rubrics at Sanborn are based on four levels: Exceeding, Meeting, In Progress, and Limited Progress. With a rubric scale, a teacher determines a grade by first looking at the student work and determining which level of the rubric is the most appropriate match for that work. Teachers generally develop rubrics that are specific to the course, competency, or skill they are assessing. Students are provided with these rubrics when an assignment or task is given so that they have a clear expectation of what they need to do in order to complete the assignment or task at a proficient (or exceeding) level.

Sanborn's Grading Scales
The chart below identifies the various grades that are used to report student achievement as well as a description of what those grades mean.

Letter Code
Rubric Grade Range
Most Commonly Used Rubric Score
Numerical Grade Range on 100 Point Scale
What The Grade Means
3.60 – 4.00
The student consistently exceeds the performance standards for the grade level. The student, with relative ease, grasps, applies, generalizes, and extends key concepts, processes, and skills consistently and independently.
3.20 – 3.59
The student consistently meets the performance standards for the grade level. The student, with limited errors, grasps key concepts, processes, and skills for the grade-level and understands and applies them effectively.
In Progress
2.80 – 3.19
The student is progressing toward meeting the performance standard for the grade level. The student is beginning to grasp key concepts, processes, and skills for the grade-level, but demonstrates inconsistent understanding and application of concepts.
Limited Progress
2.60 – 2.79
The student is making some progress toward meeting the performance standard. The student is not demonstrating understanding of grade-level key concepts, processes and skills and requires additional time and support.
Not Met
2.01 – 2.59
50 – 64.9
The student has not met the standard.
Not Yet Competent
The student is not yet competent in one or more competencies.
Insufficient Work Shown
The student has not submitted a sufficient amount of work yet to calculate a grade.
Incomplete Grade

Satisfactory Performance

Unsatisfactory Performance

Over the past few years, the school has come to understand that the rubric-based scale has produced grades that are more accurate, consistent, meaningful, and supportive of learning than grades that were produced from the 100-point scale

Accurate: By basing a student’s grade on academic factors, the teacher creates a clear picture of what the student has learned without the influence of other behavioral like participation, effort, attitude, or adherence to deadlines. Grades are reported separately on report cards & transcripts.

Consistent: For each unit or summative assessment, the teacher provides rubrics that describe exactly what the student will need to master. Using these rubrics establishes clear expectations for mastery up front and applies them consistently throughout the unit and the course. It also establishes clear expectations for students for what it means to reach the “exceeding” level.

Meaningful: A meaningful grade is one that clearly communicates what learning has taken place. In a competency-based course, scores are recorded by competencies rather than by assessment types (such as tests or homework), making it easier to identify areas of strength and to address areas of concern for each student.

Supportive of Learning: Competency-based grading system with rubric scales supports learning by focusing on the material that has or has not been learned rather than on accumulating points to reach a certain total. Reassessments also support student learning by allowing new levels of learning to replace old ones when a student shows improvement on an assessment.

For these reasons, the school has determined that by the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year, all courses at Sanborn Regional High School will operate under a rubric grading scale. Currently, half of the courses at SRHS already operate in this manner.


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