A history question rubric cannot be more complex than the rubric to be used for performance evaluation of a critical job in an organization.

I happened to look into my daughter’s History paper assessment rubric when she was a 5th Grader at the International School in Zurich (nine year’s back) and I was pleasantly surprised that a simple question could have eight levels of scoring opportunity depending on the fulfillment of assessment criteria as specified in the rubric.

I had never seen a rubric before and I had to do a bit of research to know that a rubric is a “scoring guide used to evaluate the quality of students’ constructed responses; scoring rubrics are used to delineate consistent criteria for grading and it allows teachers and students alike to evaluate criteria, which can be complex and subjective”, as in the History question.

On the left of the rubric are the scoring levels from 0 to 7 and for each of them on the right are the specific performance characteristics (criteria and descriptors) and arranged in levels indicating either the developmental sophistication of the strategy used or the degree to which a standard has been met.

The history of rubric is long but it got refined in the last century to standardize assessments of complex tasks as well and to facilitate self-assessment and feedback, while providing an opportunity to distinguish between a base level of performance to eventual mastery in that field.

Organizational rubrics have also been developed over the years to do the same but it has a difference; between evaluators and performers, there is only partial knowledge of the factors to be used, but more importantly, the individual has no absolute score but a relative score against a number of other performers.

Some would have thought this is like percentile score, but not so, because the assessment criteria is different for different performers as their objectives could be different in the same group or even with same objectives the rubric could be constructed differently. In any case this is never a simple task.

Performance evaluation therefore in most organizations is far more complex than we think it is, but we have found simpler ways of doing it with a simplified rubric. Simplification of the rubric has helped us to solve many puzzles, but simplicity cannot replace standardized quality assessment that would make self-evaluation the order of the day.

The reason why today we have multiple levels of assessment is because self-evaluation in absence of a rubric will be as different as the assessment done by any other.

But to take my original point, a history question rubric cannot be more complex than the rubric to be used for performance evaluation of a critical job in an organization. Then either we are making a simple task more difficult for evaluation or making a difficult task look simple as far as the evaluation goes.

Think of a recruitment process and the rubric to be used for evaluating the best fit for the job. This is very complex and must be more difficult than answering a history question in Grade-5. But do we use the rubric is the question.

I remember what had been the criteria used for the score-7 (the highest level in the rubric) for my daughter’s history question. It said, “The answer challenges the question itself and explores multiple paths, setting a stage for new exploration.”

In organizational performance management, such a rubric would mean shifting the goal posts used in objective setting.

Shifting goal posts is actually quite old, a concept used to chart out the next wave of transformation. But it is hardly ever used in performance management. It is used in transformational settings, when an organization wants to tread on a new path or strategy.

If transformational thinking has to be institutionalized, it should rather start in the performance rubric itself.

When we are immersed in the performance evaluation process now, we should stop for a moment and think about this.

The Assessment Rubric for Performance Evaluation: The Shifting Goal-Post puzzle

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