The Good and Bad of Analytic Rubrics

To Rubric or Not to Rubric Part 2

Analytic rubrics attempt to measure performance by breaking it down into it’s component parts. Examples are available in the IPA books by ACTFL (Adair-Hauck, Glisan, & Troyan, 2013). I have used them so often that I stopped asking why.  At first glance, this type of rubric seems to offer a logical way to measure performance by breaking it down into it’s component parts. It also communicates detailed expectations to the students.

Practical Considerations

A team of Bellevue teachers started with the FLENJ Interpersonal Rubric (Foreign Language Education of New Jersey, n.d.) They liked how well it aligned with the performance guidelines, but they thought the language was too dense for both teachers and students.

FLENJ Interpersonal Rubric

To use an analytic rubric like this, my students and I must simultaneously keep in mind 28 different descriptions. Look at how much text there is the page. We instead attempted to simplify the rubric by grouping into two sections with sub categories.

Bellevue School District French I, II, III Rubric

By focusing on communication and effectiveness, we liberated ourselves from error counting. Since these rubrics were intended for levels I, II, and III in secondary, almost none of our students would perform higher than Intermediate.

Field testing

In the classroom these rubrics were easier to use, but felt open to interpretation. Some of us used them all year. We noticed that students tended to focus on the 6 metrics we had chosen. Students who spent two years using these rubrics focused more on improvising and maintaining communication. They were not concerned with uttering the perfect sentence. *

Engagement and Communication Strategies

The specificity in the communication strategies helped the students improvise over the course of the unit. Unlike language acquisition, non-verbal strategies can be taught. In my French classes, students developed a few go-to strategies to maintain conversation when they were at loss for words. For assessment and practice, they could keep the attention of native speaker guests longer than students who did not deploy non-verbal strategies. (Of course, this may be correlated and rather than causative in nature.) 


This experiment generated new questions:

  • Do all the metrics really have the same value?
  • How do I calculate a grade with an analytic rubric?
  • Since only Intermediate High Students manage multiple time frames sometimes, does accuracy even belong there? (At least with reference to verbs)
  • And more….


*These findings are purely anecdotal based on a decade of using these rubrics with students in 6-12 grade in three states.


Adair-Hauck, B. (University of P., Glisan, E. W. (Indiana U. of P., & Troyan, F. J. (Ohio S. U. (2013). Implementing Integrated Performance Assessment. (M. (ACTFL) Abbott & P. (ACTFL) Sandrock, Eds.) (2nd Edition). Alexandria, VA: The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.

Foreign Language Education of New Jersey. (n.d.). CAPS Rubrics Consortium for Assessing Performance Standards. Retrieved July 24, 2018, from