Criterion-referenced assessment and rubrics

Office for Advancement of Learning and Teaching Best practices in teaching, learning and technology Criterion-referenced assessment and rubrics

Criterion-referenced assessment and rubrics

Criterion-referenced assessment (CRA) sounds complicated, but it's not: it simply means that each individual HKMU student is assessed in reference to fixed standards or benchmarks of acceptable achievement. Students are not compared to each other.

When criterion-referenced assessment is used, communication is crucial: both teachers and students need to know what an acceptable level of achievement will look like in relation to the criteria they're expected to meet.

This is where rubrics come in. A rubric is a powerful, flexible tool that systematically sets out the teacher's expectations of student performance for many types of student work, including essays, presentations, creative productions, and group projects.

A rubric first sets out the definition of the task that will be assessed. It then identifies the criteria — or 'dimensions' — of that task, and then concisely describes levels of achievement for each criterion or dimension. It also sets out a scale that clearly indicates how marks or grades will be awarded for each dimension at each level of performance.

Developing a good rubric helps teachers clarify and communicate their expectations of student work, and helps students understand how they should proceed in preparing their assignments. This minimizes misunderstandings, streamlines marking, and may help students achieve deeper learning.