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Reasoning with rubrics
Measure the quality of child's academic progress
 
Published Thursday, October 18, 2012 10:57 am
by Wesley Carter

My son and I frequent argue about the quality of his schoolwork. Contrary to his grades, he claims that he is doing quality work. How can I help him understand how to produce quality schoolwork?

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Wesley Carter


Yours is the battle cry of most parents. Maturity and hindsight enables parents to understand the consequences of doing mediocre work. Your son may not be mature enough to understand or value the reality that producing high quality products and services improves efficiency and reduces waste and cycle time. For most children, these terms are not relatable or relevant to their lives.


Discuss quality initiatives with your son to raise his awareness of the role of quality in his life. Explain how poor quality wiring in your home could cause a fire, poor quality food could result in food poisoning, and poor quality calculations could result in improperly fitting clothing. Without quality standards, he could not reliably count on his electronics to operate correctly.


Schedule a conference with your son and his teachers to discuss course expectations. Facilitate a conversation between your son and his teachers to enable him to ask questions and seek clarification on each teacher’s quality standards. Encourage him to take notes to use as a reference for future assignments.


Instead of disagreeing about the quality of his schoolwork, create rubrics and teach him how to evaluate his own assignments. A rubric is a document containing specific criteria and descriptions of varying levels of quality that is used to evaluate assignments. Contact your son’s teachers and ask them for the rubrics they use. There may not be a specific rubric for each assignment. However, you can use existing rubrics as a model to create rubrics of your own. Depending upon the subject area and your son’s grade, your rubric will vary in complexity. Go online and conduct an Internet search to identify additional rubrics.


In the absence of a model, create a set of standards describing exactly what a high quality assignment should look like and assign the highest score to the criteria. Next, create descriptions of lesser quality work and assign the remaining scores to the varying levels. Ask your son to add to the list of criteria.


Typically rubrics contain scoring from 0 to 4. A score of zero would indicate the assignment was un-started. A score of 4 would indicate that an assignment conformed to the highest standards as indicated on the rubric. Scores of 1 to 3 would indicate varying degrees of quality.


For example, the criteria to earn a high score on a rubric pertaining to a writing assignment for a fifth grade student might include grammar and mechanical standards. The rubric criteria could include phrases such as “includes capitalization of proper nouns, words are spelled accurately and used in the correct context.” Whereas, the criteria for a lower score might include phrases such as “some spelling, capitalization, and word usage errors.”


 A rubric for an eighth-grade math homework may include a description such as “uses appropriate mathematical terminology and notations; computations are accurate” to earn a high score. A mediocre assignment quality would align with criteria such as “one or more parts of the solution is answered incorrectly; some computational and notation errors.” 


Work with your son to help him learn how to assess the quality of his work based on the rubric for the respective assignment. Use rubrics to increase your son’s knowledge of the basis on which his assignments will be evaluated. Initially, your son may struggle with interpreting the standards and making dependable judgments about the quality of his work. It is best to provide examples of work that conforms to your standards to provide a model for him to use.


Leverage rubrics to help your son recognize his power to consistently produce quality assignments and achieve course objectives. Correlate the use of rubrics to how you approach your work. If your son continues to struggle with producing quality assignments, inquire at his school or your local church for affordable tutoring services.


WESLEY CARTER D.M. is CEO and founder of Kids by Carter. Submit your questions to wesley@kidsbycarter.com Visit www.kidsbycarter.com and follow on Twitter @kidsbydrcarter.

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