Website Evaluation Rubric


Among the ancients, according to Columella, Vitruvius, and Pliny, the word rubrica, or rubric, signified the red earth used by carpenters to mark on wood the line to follow when cutting it; according to Juvenal the same name was applied to the red titles under which the jurisconsults arranged the announcements of laws. Soon the red colours, at first used exclusively for writing the titles, passed to the indications or remarks made on a given text.1

Today in academia we refer to a rubric as a scoring tool rather than as it was originally referenced: notes in red ink used in grading text. We maintain the spirit of the original meaning of rubric since the term still refers to a general rule or guide for judging something of importance. More specifically, a scoring rubric consists of a fixed scale and a list of the characteristics for describing performance for each of the score points on the scale. Since rubrics describe levels of performance, they provide important information to teachers, parents and others interested in what students know and are able to do. Perhaps most importantly, rubrics provide a clear statement to students, teachers and parents as to what is considered important and worth learning, even before the learning has occurred because "once educators incorporate multiple intelligent strategies into the teaching repertoire, it becomes important to rethink the approach to assessment." 2.

"If you get something wrong, your teacher can prove you knew what you were supposed to do."3

A Typical Rubric

A typical rubric is based upon what we have learned, rather than what we have been taught.  As such it is an authentic assessment tool designed to simulate real life activities and experiences; more precisely, it is a scoring guide that differentiates between levels of development in a specific area of performance or behavior; they differ from traditional methods of assessment in that they examine activity in the actual process of learning, clearly showing us how our work is being evaluated.

Technical Requirements of Rubrics

Features: All rubrics can be created in a variety of forms and levels of complexity, yet contain three common features: One, they focus on measuring a stated objective (performance, behavior or quality); two, they use a range to rate performance; three, they contain specific performance characteristics arranged in levels indicating the degree to which a standard has been met.4

The following features would apply to what is considered a valid rubric:

The descriptors (score, level and so forth) reflect a continuity in the degree of difference between say a rating or level of 1 and a 2 and a 4 and a 5.

Each descriptor is constructed in terms of criteria language used parallel to all other sentences.

The rubric is coherent or focuses on the same criteria throughout. and hence refers to the variance of quality for the (fixed) criteria, and not in the language which shifts in importance or introduces a new criteria.

When multiple rubrics are uses there is an apt weighing, not arbitrary weighing of each criterion in reference to the others.

A valid rubric is one which should enable assessment of smoothness and  formativeness of a presentation with valid inferences toward this  presentation made to the degree that what is scored is what is central to the  presentation.  The proposed differences in quality should:

The rubric should be reliable in that a consistent scoring using evaluative language (excellent, poor, or novice, expert) is translated into language which is highly descriptive (better than, worse than) which helps judges recognize the salient and distinctive features of each level of presentation.5

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Do You Need A Rubric?

Whether we are a student doing research, a shopper seeking a product customer satisfaction rating or a award program owner, all of us must realize that anyone can publish anything on the interest at anytime.  Internet resources are not necessarily reviewed or "filtered" like books, magazines or videos which pass through an editor or editorial staff, or are selected by a librarian during collection development. Common sense says why not have an evaluation criteria rubric for internet resources review? 

What would you include in the basic criteria for doing research?

Authority: Decide whether an individual, an organization or an agency who is recognized as an expert in a field who is knowledgeable, qualified and reliable.

Accuracy: Can it be verifiable, dependable and error-free?

Motivation: Is the author supplying real, measurable information or is he or she just trying to sell an idea or opinion?

Objectivity: Is the material presented selectively or in a unbalanced manner which is only one side of an issue, or was some information left out? Is the information merely an opinion on an issue? To what extent is the creator trying to change our own opinion?

Currency of Information: Relates to the date of information, publication date or date of last revision.  As in printed sources, some work is timeless, like classic novels or much of history.  Other work has limited life because of changes in the discipline like technology.  Up to date links add to the validity of the entire site.

Designing a Rubric

Literally thousands of expertly designed rubrics are available on the internet.  Rubrics can be either general or specific.  General rubrics can be applied to various tasks or they can be specific, like the one mentioned earlier for evaluating an individual web site.  Both types of rubrics benefit the user and can also be analytical or holistic.  If a rubric has two or more separate scales it is called an analytical rubric, as it takes apart or breaks up the rating system for each trait; a rubric that uses only a single scale is called a holistic rubric.  A holistic rubric is more efficient when criteria cannot be separated, however an analytical rubric will yield more detailed information, and, therefore, more specific feedback.

But you can also adapt a rubric - modify or combine existing rubrics; re-word parts of the rubric; drop or change one or more scales of an analytical rubric, omitting criteria that are not relevant to the outcome you are measuring; mix and match scales from different rubrics; add a "no response: category at the bottom of the scale; divide a holistic rubric into several scales.6

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Meta-Rubric To Assess Our Rubric

The Chicago Public Schools web site lists the following criteria for evaluating scoring rubrics, which is criteria they have adapted.7

Value of Using Rubrics For Web Site Evaluations

Sample Rubrics

Sample Rubric One

Sample Rubric One

The OPEN project has based its checklist on the characteristics of a good Web site found in the SDSU/PacBell Fellows BlueWeb'n Applications Evaluation Rubric. Our thanks for their permission to include excerpts here. For the full rubric visit this excellent web site.

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Sample Rubric Two

Sample Rubric Two

This is an example of a general rubric explained earlier.  This one has a scale of one (beginning) through four (exemplary).  If you were developing a writing rubric the stated objective or performance might include structure: opening, sequence of events and closing; mechanics: grammar, usage, spelling, neatness; Content: story, use of language, creativity.

Sample Rubric Three

Sample Rubric Three

This is a writing rubric I use for creative writing classes in continuing education lesson plans.  Assuming that writing is a criteria element for a rubric to evaluate web sites, this one could be used or altered to fit particulars.

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Sample Rubric Four

Sample Four-Plate One

Sample Four-Plate Two

Sample Four-Plate Three

Sample Four-Plate Four

Sample Four-Plate Five

The Adult Literacy and Technology Network is a national effort dedicated to finding solutions for using technology to enhance adult literacy.

Among the Technology Training Special Collection you will find the sample rubric four shown above.

The criteria used to decide whether to add a site or materials to the Technology Training Special Collection were developed by members of the Adult Literacy and Technology Training Network. Each potential selection is reviewed based on:

For inclusion of resources in the Collection, a minimum score of 24 out of 32 must be obtained for web sites and a minimum score of 18 out of 24 must be obtained for documents.

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The Value of Using A Rubric For Web Site Evaluations

We have included web site rubrics used by Adult Literacy and Technology Training Network and Blue Web'n to focus on the formal process of guided collaboration in the selection of web sites.

There are obviously other groups who also adhere to a formal process by using rubrics and stated selection criteria's, which are not structured as rubrics but also serve the same purpose.  Which is to provide consistency and integrity in selection of a web site to be included by the group or individual.

Another group is what are called collectively as rated web site award programs. Those who are members of an award program rating service or index, adhere to codes of conduct, listing requirements of each group and have a formal selection process which involves a published set of criteria, a mission statement and staff to help in selections.


1 Catholic Encyclopedia

2 Father Ronald Nuzzi, A Multiple Intelligence Approach, (1997) Saint Mary's Press

3 Understanding Rubrics, by Heidi Goodrich Andrade
Andrade, Heidi Goodrich. The effects of Instructional Rubrics on Learning to Write. Current issues in Education (on-line) 4.4 (2001). 15 August 2005.
Moskal, Barbara M. Scoring Rubrics: What, When and How: Practical Assessment, Research and Evaluation, 7.3 (2000). 12 December 2002

4 Nancy Pickett and Bernie Dodge

5 Relearning by Design, Inc.

6 Chicago Public School System

7 Herman, Aschbacher and Winters (1992), Arter (1990) and ISBE (1994)

Rubric Resources

RubiStar: Want to make exemplary rubrics in a short amount of time? Registered users can save and edit rubrics online. You can access them from home, school, or on the road. Registration and use of this tool is free.

The Technology Applications Center For Educator Development: What are Rubrics? Assessment of Technology Skills, Rubrics for Technology Products, Applicable General Rubrics, Create your own Rubrics and Rubric Software.

ETE Teacher Pages: Active learning situations challenge teachers to determine grades in a way that accurately reflects achievement and that is acceptable to students, parents, and colleagues. "Rubrics" are guides for assigning scores to alternative assessment products.

Author: Robert D. Lancaster, Copyright 270716

Manuscript Technical Assistance: Lisa Conrad.

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