Assessment Rubric for Scratch

The Gist

  • Use for Scratch or another block-based programming language
  • Rubrics should be based on what the student demonstrates
  • Informed by Griffin’s Assessment for Teaching on writing quality criteria
  • Uses Dreyfus’s model of skill acquisition
  • Based on Australian Computer Academy’s unpacking the curriculum

I’ve seen some rubrics out there for Scratch, but they are more skewed towards a user’s competence in Scratch over alignment to curriculum, and I doubt they’ve been constructed using a criterion-referenced framework or developmental taxonomy.

This rubric has been months in the making and came about when a teacher reached out via the Surfing Scratcher Facebook Page to enquire about rubrics that were linked to the video tutorials. I was in the process of making a Scratch Maze Game tutorial series for my own class and thought I’d take the opportunity to link what I did in the videos to a rubric of some kind.

But I didn’t yet have any. I searched. The Digital Technologies Hub was the first stop. I reached out with my draft and obtained some clarity over the content descriptions. One of the trickiest parts of teaching is inferring what the content descriptions ask to implement.

I then, of course, stumbled upon the Australian Computing Academy’s Unpacking the Curriculum, which is a wonderful resource that clarifies and elaborates on the content descriptions. But, it is still a tricky resource for students to understand.

Enter the Assessment Rubric for Scratch (or Blockly, or any other block-based language). It is constructed using a criterion-referenced framework so that each rubric focusses on:

  1. What the student makes, says, writes or does
  2. Increasing levels of competency

It contains a teacher version and a student version, which could also be the teacher version.

What’s wrong with most rubrics?

Many rubrics leave students guessing what the educator is asking for. For instance, rubrics that use ‘pseudo-counts’, which count rightness and wrongness, discourage students from developing something more complex. Rubrics that have ambiguous language such as ‘good’, ‘better’, ‘best’, ‘superior’ or ‘suitable’ leave judgment to the subjective opinion of the assessor. Other rubrics may use a sequence of steps as levels of competence but do not account for varying abilities at each step. So where do we go?

How to write a quality rubric using Griffin’s Assessment for Teaching

Rubrics are based on evidence, and evidence must take the form of what a person can do, say, make or write.

(Griffin, 2014, p. 126). 

This evidence must be directly observable and should be compartmentalised so that they contain one central idea. This can be called a capability and within the capability are indicators that students reach through their work. Each indicator should describe a progressively higher level of performance and, to keep things sane, each column (or row depending on how it’s designed) should contain four or fewer criteria for any indicator. 

So just how do you define these higher levels of performance? To help guide educators, capabilities and indicators should be paired or associated with a taxonomy or developmental framework.

Dreyfus’s model of skill acquisition

This model was chosen because of its adaptability to describe the development of learning within a specific instructional area, such as coding. There are 5 levels to the model and they include:

  • Expert — No longer relies on rules and operates from a deep understanding.
  • Proficient — Possesses perspective of a situation identifying goals intuitively
  • Competent — Perceives actions in terms of longer-term goals.
  • Advanced Beginner — Minor adjustments made to rules and procedures.
  • Novice — Rigid adherence to rules or procedures.

The example in Assessment for Teaching uses a recipe and pins one’s ability to 4 levels:

  1. Expert — Invents own recipes.
  2. Proficient — Adapts recipe to suit situation.
  3. Competent — Attempts changes to recipe.
  4. Novice — Follows a recipe.

Notice how each criterion begins with a verb and how each level of competence assumes mastery of the previous level. You could be a 6-year-old inventing your own recipes but have you demonstrated your competency of the three prior stages?

What about the Rubric?

Yes okay, you can find it at the bottom of this article. I’ve also included a couple of extra rubrics that focus on organisation of code and naming conventions, which aren’t in the curriculum but are important. Obviously not as important for someone who is having their first coding experience.

If you’re interested in the Assessment for Teaching book, then you can purchase it below.

Download the Scratch Rubric

This article contains links to affiliates, which means if you purchase through the link, Surfing Scratcher receives a commission.

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