August 25, 2018

We always walk away from SLP Summit thinking, “Did we just become best friends?” We absolutely LOVE connecting with SLPs from around the world - this profession really is the best! Since we always cram in as much learning as we can in such a short amount of time, it’s not always possible to answer all of the questions you post during the live session.

If you missed our course, Sarah and I talked about rubrics. We discussed how many SLPs avoid writing goals for or targeting dynamic communication needs because they are not concrete and difficult to collect data on. This is why we love rubrics, because with a little task analysis, you can tackle any goal!

So here are 20 questions we couldn’t get to live - from how to get buy in from other staff to how to use them!


1. Have you talked to your administrator about qualitative instead of quantitative data? Any tips?

Whenever introducing a new(er) concept to your administrators, you must be prepared to share (1) what it is you want to do; (2) how it will benefit students; and (3) how you plan to implement it. In other words, you can’t just go in saying “I want to do this” (step 1) and be disappointed by receiving an immediate no. It’s all about how you ask (steps 1, 2 AND 3).

2. How do you introduce the rubrics to parents, especially when switching to this from another data collection method?

Parents just want to know you are doing what’s best for their child, not what is best for you as the SLP. If you can give them a basic understanding of what it is you want to do, and show how this will be a more comprehensive way to track progress on their child’s communication goal, they are typically receptive to the idea.

3. Would you recommend that we emphasize with parents/teachers the QUALITATIVE aspect? That they are NOT percentages!?

Absolutely! Rubric scores are often misinterpreted as ratios, or fractions that convert into a percentage. Be sure to emphasize to your team that the rubric is a total score, and the baseline is how many points the student current has toward that total score.


4. Do you as the SLP fill out the rubric or do you ask other educators to complete it? Do you have classroom staff take data using these rubrics at a certain point?

The SLP will ultimately be completing the rubric, but collecting data from multiple sources can definitely help with this process. It also gives you a good idea of how you are viewing the skill development vs. the classroom staff.

5. Can you clarify how the scoring on the rubric translates to the 14/15 in the goals?

When determining scores on a rubric (e.g. baseline, progress, goal mastery), you will start with the total number of possible points a student can earn on the rubric. This will always be the bottom number of the score. In the example above, the rubric has a total of 15 points. To determine the top number, you will score where the student is at this moment in time to get a baseline or report progress, or determine where you want the student to be at the end of the IEP for goal mastery. Goal mastery is up to you as the clinician to determine - what is an achievable goal for the student to master in that time frame.

6. How would you document rubric information in a daily note? We need to collect data at least every two weeks and that seems cumbersome for using with rubrics.

Daily data is meant to drive instruction and monitor whether your treatment with a student is effective. It is not necessary to use the rubric to take data during every single session. You may use the rubric more frequently than just at grading periods if you are wanting to look at the bigger picture, but most often you will be targeting one of the areas on the rubric and taking data on that skill during that session. This can be a combination of quantitative and qualitative data.

For example, if I am working on story retell, in my treatment sessions we could be working on anything from story organization to story grammar elements. We may also be working on using vocabulary from the story, or developing grammatically correct sentences. So my data will need to reflect what I’m doing in that session that connects into the overall goal. I will then use this data to complete the rubric when I need to report progress at the end of each grading period.


7. Do you use rubrics with articulation and ALL goals?

We use rubrics for complex goals that are not easily measured with plus/minus scoring criteria alone. Examples would be fluency, social language goals, and story retell. For concrete skills like articulation, grammar, and other areas where there is a definite right or wrong answer, we recommend using a criterion referenced test instead of a rubric.

8. Do the rubrics need to be attached to the IEP or can it just be your quarterly/annual form of progress measurement?

Yes! Not only does a parent/team need this information when reviewing the goal, but think about if a student transfers to a new school or district during that IEP. The receiving therapist will need this rubric to be able to measure progress on that goal.


9. How would you write a goal based off a rubric? Since the final step of your rubrics often talk about setting, how do you address this in the “when given” portion of your IEP goals? How do you make them specific?

If you are using a rubric to measure the progress of a skill, the goal should include: (1) the specific skill you are targeting, (2) the criteria of mastery, (3) what rubric you are using, and (4) how often you will be reporting progress.

For example: Mario will retell a story scoring 14/15 on a Story Retell rubric measured quarterly.

This goal is specific because it is based on the criteria of the rubric, and that rubric is attached to the IEP.

Every district is different in how they require goals to be written based on feedback they get from your state’s department of education. So tweak goals as needed based on requirements in your district/state.

10. Do you use the annual goal with lower numbers, i.e 6/12 on the rubric for the benchmarks/objectives or percentages of accuracy on the skills that are part of the rubric? Do you use the componants of the rubric as your objectives/benchmarks?

Benchmarks are tricky, as the rule of thumb with benchmarks is that you don’t simply change scoring criteria to develop them. Benchmarks should show how you will be breaking down the goal into smaller components so that the IEP goal can be mastered. They reflect how a student will learn the skill with the highest possibility for success and do not break down the score of the goal.

However, rubrics are not used with concrete skills. For example, you wouldn’t write benchmarks for /r/ in conversation to be 20%, 40%, 60%, and 80%. But with rubrics, the score includes task analysis of the skill embedded in the scoring criteria so it may be appropriate to list the expected score for benchmarks, as well as what specifically you expect the student to do to earn that score.

11. Have you ever written a goal that focuses on a student improving their previous rubric score in one or more specific area? I have several students with complex needs and percentages tend not to highlight all the hard work that went into them making gains. Thinking I may have to try my hand at a rubric this year :)

Rubrics are great to use with student with complex communication needs! However, with any IEP review, be sure if you are continuing a goal, you have really clearly analyzed the previous year’s data and have determined that it is an attainable goal. A huge red flag to advocates, attorneys and state department of ed audits is when the same goal is used year after year for a student. Also, even if a goal was not fully met, the progress may have been adequate enough and there may be another content area that will be of greater benefit to the student for the new IEP year.

12. In the goal criteria, what do you mean by ‘per grading period’ - does that mean when progress reports and annual IEPs are due?

By law, special education must report progress at least as frequently as general education. So in our district we report progress ‘per grading period’, but this could also say quarterly, monthly, per trimester, etc. - whatever matches the terminology used in your district for sending progress reports home.

13. Would you include a goal and all the objectives on one rubric? It seems like it would be hard to have a separate rubric for each objective.

Rubrics are used for complex communication skills, and as a result have a lot of criteria that go into mastery of that skill. These nuances are reflected in the criteria of the rubric.


14. How do I add a rubric to an IEP document?

If you are using IEP software, there is usually a way to upload a document to the IEP itself. Check with your district support person or the IEP software company if you are unsure of how to do this for your specific program.

15. What do you do when you have tried to use rubrics and are told they can’t be attached in our electronic IEP system, so just pick one concrete aspect to target?

If your IEP software does not allow for uploads, you can still send in the rubric with other documents that need to be scanned into the student record (e.g. signed progress reports, signed IEP pages, etc.) We always want to work from a place of what’s best for the student, not what’s easiest for the district.


16. Is it possible to print the rubric? I feel like I want to provide it to the next SLP if I am moving on to a new building and the following SLP doesn’t use SLP Toolkit.

Yes! When you use a rubric in SLP Toolkit, you can print a blank copy by assigning the rubric to your student, selecting the ‘Actions’ tab under the rubric name, and clicking on ‘Print.’ You will then have a clean copy in .pdf format that you can upload into the IEP, share with parents/teachers at the meeting, and place in the student’s speech file.

17. Can you share the ‘work collaboratively in a group’ rubric you mentioned?

We love to share! Sign up for a free account at With a free account, you have access to all of the content in the app (including rubrics!) just not all of the features.

18. Do you have any for AAC?

We are currently in development for building out more rubrics for students with complex communication needs/AAC users. If you have a wish list for rubrics related to certain skills, please share with us at

19. Does SLP Toolkit have a function for creating/altering a rubric?

Not yet! But this is currently in development and should be available for release in the next couple months!

20. Hi, I love your rubric example in the presentation! I see it includes level of cueing but then at the top talks about the skills being used independently. This confuses me! Can you clarify what you mean by independently or with cues given?

In many of our rubrics, we use a combination of quantitative and qualitative scoring criteria so we can use a lot of different data types to get our score. We define quantitative measurement as a data driven score based on the last 5 opportunities tracked during the grading period. Full points are given when a student correctly used the skill 5 times independently. Independently is defined as the number of times the student completed that skill as defined in the annual goal for mastery. If your mastery of the goal by the end of the IEP includes cues, then this would be considered independent for purposes of scoring the rubric.

Still have questions about developing and using rubrics? Don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below!