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Rubrics and related matters

What is a rubric?  While many would've asked this question only a few years ago, most people with children in school today know this as a grading tool very commonly used in our school. Most rubrics do a fantastic job of quantitative grading and a less effective job of qualitative grading.  Constantly fine tuned to better address specific areas of concern (for example, the first freshman essay of the year is primarily an assessment of general writing expertise, and thus has evenly assigned point values) typically the areas of emphasis on a particular essay may have a higher grade value than others. The following are rubrics being used this year, many of which are modified regularly according to need and expectation.