Holistic, Single-point, and Analytic Rubrics, Oh My!

Katie Novak
Katie Novak
March 21, 2021

I see it, I like, I want it, I got it. 

Ariana Grande breaks down a simple truth in her song “7 rings” - when you have your eyes on the prize you can achieve it. We need to heed her advice in the class because, sometimes, when it comes to sharing expectations and goals with students, the criteria may not always be crystal clear. This may cause trouble not only for the student, but also could create more work for you.

Which is why I love rubrics - really clear, well done rubrics! 

A rubric is a scoring tool that identifies the various criteria relevant to a learning outcome, and then explicitly states the possible levels of achievement along a continuum. 

There are many forms of rubrics out there - but my favorite are ones that are universally designed so students can see it, want it, and get it. When it comes to rubrics, you have three options: holistic, analytic, and single-point. 

The Holistic Rubric

The holistic rubric usually gives a range of performance like “Superior to Developing”, “A to F” or “4.0 - 1.0”.  As the name implies, you are evaluating the “whole” assignment and judging how well it meets the objectives. This can be used regardless of how students express their understanding so it lends itself well to Universal Design. For support in determining the most relevant learning targets, you may want to explore the FAR Cycle.

Grade/Point Characteristics
Example of a Holistic Rubric
3 Product models an understanding of UDL, cites evidence from unit resources, answers the essential question, and is clearly organized.
2 Product models an understanding of UDL but does not yet make connections to how unit resources impacted understanding and/or the product lacks organization.

1

Product models an emerging understanding of UDL but does not yet make connections to how unit resources impacted understanding and/or the product lacks organization.

 

The Analytic Rubric

The analytic rubric is more specific than the holistic rubric.  It usually provides a score for 1 to 5 or gives points on some sort of scale and evaluates the assignment on a set of criteria.

  3 2 1
Example of an Analytic Rubric
UDL Understanding


Product models an understanding of UDL.


Product models an emerging understanding of UDL. Product does not yet reflect an emerging understanding of UDL.
Cites Evidence Response clearly cites evidence from unit resources to support the answer to essential questions. Response alludes to unit resources but does not cite resources nor credit specific resources. Response does not yet make connections to how unit resources impacted.
Effective Organization Response is organized in a logical sequence which flows naturally and is engaging. Response is organized so the audience can follow with minimal difficulty. Organization would benefit from a revision.

 

Research on the effectiveness of rubrics has found that analytic rubrics are not always the best course of action for both teachers and students. According to Denise Krane in her Guest Post: What Students See in Rubrics, teachers often spend too much time completing the rubric and the rubric is too robust (long) for students to find value. With this in mind, the single point rubric was born.

The Single Point Rubric

The Single Point Rubric (SPRs) is essentially an evolved version of an analytic rubric. It features one performance metric, typically the  “proficient” metric, and offers  room for personalized feedback. 

Single Point Rubrics are a relatively new form and came out of the research of Black and Williams as discussed in a paper presented by Jarene Fluckiger. Mary Dietz introduced Jennifer Gonzalez to the concept in 2000.

You may know that I wrote a book with George Couros called Innovate Inside the Box: Empowering Learners Through UDL and the Innovator's Mindset.  Serendipitously, the paper that Black and Williams wrote was entitled Inside the Black Box: Raising Standards Through Classroom Assessment so I feel an immediate kinship with their ideas and I would like to share my thoughts with you on using single point rubrics from inside the UDL box.

So how can a single point rubric be used with UDL? As I mentioned, SPRs only describe one level of performance...proficient

Almost There You Got This! Nailed It!
Example of a Single Point Rubric


Product models an understanding of UDL.


 
  Response clearly cites evidence from unit resources to support the answer to essential questions.  
  Response is organized in a logical sequence which flows naturally and is engaging.  

 

UDL is all about providing options and choices for students so that they can become expert learners.  Students cannot become expert learners without multiple options for engagement, representation and action and expression.  Also, students cannot become expert learners if they concentrate too much on the final grade and not enough on the process of learning. A major part of all of this is teacher feedback. Teacher feedback is a constant process and rubrics are great tools for providing some of that feedback. 

SPRs were originally created as a formative assessment tool for students to self assess and can and should still be used for that purpose. As a self assessment tool  an SPR can make the process of self assessment easier and faster by limiting the amount of criteria that need to be reviewed. There has been a recent surge in the last five years on the topic of SPRs as they:

Here is an example of a UDL style holistic SPR that we use in our professional development courses on UDL.  This is a rubric for the final project of the course:

Almost There You Got This! Nailed It!
Example of a Holistic Single Point Rubric


Product models an understanding of UDL, cites evidence from unit resources, answers the essential question, and is clearly organized.  

 

Once a learner submits a reflection, the instructor uses the rubric to evaluate the work as with any other rubric but instead of checking off multiple boxes to assess the quality of the work, the instructor concentrates on providing constructive feedback on the positive elements of the work as well as areas for revision and improvement.  If the learner does not meet the standard then the work is returned to the student for revision with suggestions for improvement.  This is where the “mastery oriented feedback” plays a big role.  There are no penalties... just a second (or third) chance to meet all of the standards.

If you haven’t already, give a single point rubric a try.  All you have to do is take the “proficient” column from one of your holistic rubrics and place it into its own table with lots of room for you to share feedback and resources.

I think that you will be pleasantly surprised by the work that your students do as a result, and you may get back some essential time too! And time - that’s something where I know you’re going to say: I see it, I like, I want it, I got it.

Download our quick access guide to Universally Designing Rubrics

Rubric_Infographics

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