Scoring Performance-based Assessment Tasks

How do I score performance-based assessment tasks?

To rate written and oral speech, we use checklists and rubrics to compare student performances to pre‐established criteria. Checklists and rubrics provide clear and explicit criteria for rating the task and descriptions for a range of performances. Therefore, an important step when you develop assessment tasks is to develop checklists or rubrics that will tell you and others who use your assessment what to focus on when rating student performances.

Click on the boxes below to learn more about these different tools for scoring performance-based assessment tasks.


Checklists can be easy to use and clearly aligned to performance tasks, but they are used mainly to indicate whether something is or isn’t done, rather than providing information about the quality of a performance. You may want to use checklists to record observations of student performances in small groups, to track progress in discrete skills over time, for student self-assessments, or to help students check their fulfillment of task requirements.

For more information on how to use checklists, and to review examples of checklists, see the CARLA Continuous Improvement: Checklists webpage.

Rubrics define a set of criteria for students’ work with descriptions of levels of performance quality on each criterion. While checklists let you know what the student was able to accomplish in their performance, rubrics can give you clear criteria for how well the student performed. Effective rubrics address the learning goals of the performance assessment task and contain clear descriptions of performance for each goal.

You can create a rubric using the following steps:

  1. Brainstorm possible criteria. Here, you are answering the question, what’s necessary for successful completion of the task?
  2. Select and prioritize criteria.
    • Use the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines as a resource for selecting criteria. For more information on the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines, check out the Proficiency section of this module.
    • Consider elements such as task completion, quantity of language, quality of language, communication strategies, and cultural awareness.
  3. Choose the levels of the rubric (3, 4, or 5-point scales are common).
  4. Write descriptions for each level.
  5. Pilot the rubric (try it out with a few students!)
  6. Share and discuss the rubric with your students and other stakeholders.

For your assessment tasks, you can use holistic rubrics that provide one overall score, or analytic rubrics that have different criteria for different parts of a performance. To learn more about rubrics and review examples of holistic and analytic rubrics, see the CARLA Continuous Improvement: Types of Rubrics and Examples webpages.