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## 9 thoughts on “Interpersonal Communication Rubric”

JeffHi Ben,

I really like this new rubric and plan to use it, but how do you explain to kids that 3 out of 4 is a B. Is this called standards based grading that allows a 75% to count as a B? Perhaps I can manipulate the percentages in my grade book to allow 80% and above to count as an A. Do you know of a good source that explains this type of grading?

Thank you!

jenJeff, I assess based on the standard (rubric) but since my school has percentages as well, I just assign a percentage to each number. It’s not perfect but nobody has complained. It’s similar to what Robert does, except I don’t have the “in between” values since I am literally assessing the observed skills. They get 4 3 2 or 1 (no decimals). So mine is 4=100; 3=85; 2=64(because of how our system calculates standards) and 1=59. The percentages are pretty much made up, but so far they work out ok.

Jeff L UnderwoodJen, thank you for this idea. I have worked out my percentages to what I think will work, but I can’t be for sure until I have more data in the grade book. My percentages are:

4=100; 3=85; 2=70; 1=55

Like you, my percentages are pretty much made up, but since I have raw scores for “projects” and “portfolio work” and also raw scores on tests and quizzes, I think the assessment will work.

I agree with Ben that it can be very confusing with all the numbers. A 10 point scale probably is easier to manipulate but I like the simplicity of these 4 point rubrics. Plus, when I have admin, colleagues and parents taking aim at my program I want to be able to point to something solid for each skill set.

Ben SlavicSo Jeff if no effort is made, then they get a 1, I am guessing. That is failing. Then you have to contact the parents. I prefer to not to that (a) bc I am lazy and (b) bc it doesn’t help the kid get better. So I always gave a passing grade of 70 to all my students. Screw the system. Let the Invisibles, the WCTG judging jobs, all of that magic we do to get kids involved, bring those kids up so they never fail. Just my thoughts on this topic.

Ben SlavicI don’t go there. I always use a 10 scale and it is much easier to manipulate. In general, we learn to fudge and when we let the numbers rule our work, confusion like this happens. Sorry that’s all I got on this Jeff. I’m tired of numbers leading strong teachers around by the nose. If the rubrics don’t work, we change them to make them work. Rubrics are just excuses to give the grade we know is the right one anyway.

Robert HarrellHi Jeff, let me see if I can help a bit.

Standards-Based Grading and “Power Grading” are something that Robert Marzano has popularized. Scott Benedict has done work with both of these concepts and has information on his website Teach for June. Look under the Articles tab.

Moving to Standards-Based Assessment requires some significant changes in thinking. Most students and teachers – and just about all grading programs – begin with the idea of either accumulating points for a grade or getting a percentage correct. The “standard” percentages are in increments of 10 until you get to F, and then it occupies 59% of the scale.

SBA looks at the matter differently and assigns numeric values to performance relative to a standard. Ben’s rubric uses a four-point scale. I use a five-point scale. When I explain it to my students, I compare it to the state tests with which they are familiar. Here’s my scale and a short explanation:

5 = Exceeds the standard (in at least some aspects while meeting the standard in all aspects)

4 = Meets the standard (in all aspects)

3 = Approaches the standard (also called “Basic”, i.e. may partially meet the standard but has areas that do not meet the standard or comes close in all areas)

2 = Falls below the standard (does not meet or approach the standard)

1 = Falls far below the standard (e.g. gets every question wrong; turns in a paper with nothing but a name on it; physical presence in class will get a student a 1)

0 = Presents zero material for evaluation (e.g. does not come to class; does not even hand in a paper or quiz)

The the teacher’s problem is how to translate this to percentages. If I take the “standard” percentages, it utterly skews the results against students. On a performance, I may evaluate the student at “basic”, but the grading scale rates 3 out of 5 as 60%, a D minus. That doesn’t reflect the student’s ability at all. Even the 4 out of 5 is 80%, a B minus. B minus indicates lower proficiency than a 4 does on the scale.

The correlation to percentages is even more out of whack with the four-point scale.

The real problem is with the percentage scale commonly used in schools. If you study the history of grades and grading in the United States, this becomes quite clear. Grades were introduced at Yale University about 1795, and a four-point scale was used. (Possibly the origin of the 4.0 scale in the US) Until the middle of the twentieth century, standard scales ranged between three and nine divisions with the most common being three: superior, adequate, poor (or some other set of names that reflect this division). Until the second half of the nineteenth century, even these scales were not in widespread use. “Narrative grades” were given instead, in which the instructor described the students’ abilities and proficiencies.

The desire to have a system that was “transferable” between institutions led to the introduction of letter grades, and the system of A-B-C-D-F was adopted. E existed at one time, but it was dropped because of fear that it would be interpreted as “Excellent”. During the first half of the nineteenth century, the 100-point scale was popularized. With the widespread use of computers and computer programs in the 1950s this scale became dominant. It was introduced and disseminated with no pedagogical justification whatsoever. It was placed into computers because it is an easy scale for computer programmers to manipulate and program. Schools and universities adopted the 100-point scale because it was readily available, not because it was pedagogically sound. In fact, it is highly inaccurate.

Unless every quiz and test consists of 100 questions, the margin for error in accurate grading increases dramatically. On a ten-question quiz, the margin for error in reflecting what students actually know is as great as two letter grades. The scale also introduces a false perception of objectivity and precision. Do we really believe that a grader can distinguish between, say, a work that deserves an 89% and a work that deserves a 90%? Not unless you have a test of 100 discrete items, each worth one point. How many teachers do that on a regular basis? Not many. Instead, teachers generally work in increments of five or 10 points, thus introducing both imprecision and subjectivity. Those in themselves aren’t necessarily bad, but when they are disguised as precision and objectivity, they are dishonest and ethically questionable. A three or five-point scale is actually more accurate in categorizing students than a 100-point scale. It would be much more accurate for teachers simply to enter A, B, C, D or F in their grade books rather than a percentage or number of points. BTW, the A, B, C, D, F scale was introduced by Mt Holyoke College in 1897; in 1898 they briefly experimented with A, B, C, D, E, F.

The other problem with “standard” grading is the 60% for a D. Can we truly distinguish 60 degrees of failure? (I’m counting zero as a degree of failure.) Is failure truly so much more important than success that we weight the grading system toward failure? In what other endeavor do we do this? Baseball players who bat 300 (out of 1000) are stars. What percentage of shots does a star basketball or soccer player make? Except for grading in schools, 50% is average. Perhaps the skewing of our current system arises from the fact that in early applications of the 100-point scale, no one received lower than 50%, so the bottom of the scale was omitted. Thus, modern adoption of the “innovation” of giving an F 50% is really simply a return to earlier practice.

There is a great deal more that can be said about grades and grading, but I hope this helps.

In my own practice, I simply change the scale in the grade book. (Our program allows me to do this.)

100% = A+

99.99 – 80.01 = A

80.00 – 60.01 = B

60 – 40.01 = C

40 – 20.01 = D

20 – 0 = F

So far no one has complained.

JeffWow, Robert! This is really interesting information. It may be hard for me to make the switch to this type of grading mid-semester, even though it makes a lot of sense. I might just assign percentages to the 4 points as Jen suggests until I can research this more and maybe take a course from Scott Benedict. Thank you for such a detailed explanation.

JeffSo letÂ´s say you apply this 4 point scale to your grade book and you have assigned percentage points for A, B, C, D grades (as Jen does). What do you enter into the grade book for a student that scores a 4 on the Listens with the Intent to Understand criteria, but scores a 3 on the criteria Supports the flow of the Language?

NathanielI like the simplification to two concepts: Listen and Flow. I also like the descriptive indicators. I do not do well with meets and sort of meets the standard.

Tina, nice video that you posted on the CI LiftOff. Every day is a new day. Every quarter is a new quarter. The more training in our expectations that we have done the easier it will be. But it is never too late to start consistently employing the rubric.