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Art Assessment that Involves Students

Even if you don’t LOVE art assessment (and who does?), here are some tips to make grading art easier and more effective.



Art Assessment for Elementary Art

You might say that I’m a little assessment obsessed! I’m so obsessed with assessments, that I made my master’s project about assessment. Wait, what … YOU LOVE ASSESSING! You might be saying to yourself. Well, no, in fact, I don’t like assessing. I’d much rather be making art projects. But that is why I made it my mission to figure out the best way to do this. If I’m going to spend a great deal of my time doing something, I want to know that I’m doing it the quickest and most effective way possible. 

I’m also goal-driven, and when teacher evaluation says things like having students’ input on assessments. I added that to the mix of things that I wanted to be able to do.


A Better Grading Rubric for Art

What I’ve set out to do is to make a non-threatening (to students) grading rubric for art that provides useful feedback to students and teachers while making it easy to create and assess. I’ve made the design flexible to include student goals and the descriptors vague enough to allow for students’ input on what each performance level should look like.

I’ve tested these rubrics out over the past few years and finally put together a Rubric Kit so that anyone can use a computer to design their own rubric.


Making the Art Assessment


Sample Rubrics

4 Rubric Samples of Art Assessment

I’ve found that students enjoy using these art assessments with emojis so much more than when I spelled descriptors out in detail with text. I tried making the rubric for grading art and images a little whimsical so that students smile a little when they are doing the self-assessment.

The Emoji Effect

6 colorful smiley faces that can be used in art assessment

Smiley faces or emojis instead of written descriptors, isn’t that a little childish? That’s what you might think, but I found that my students (who were up to 5th grade) didn’t mind a bit. They enjoyed just coloring in the face to self-assess … which resulted in multi-colored-silly faces.


Student Input

6 different sheets for recording students input for art assessment- Show what each level of achievements looks like on these pages.

 The additional advantage that the funny faces provided was that we could talk about what they thought each level should look like. In my Rubric Kit, I provide a blank sheet for each facial expression that you can record their description on so that you can keep it on display.  Students give input about what each level of performance looks like. 

“Descriptors by Students” Sheets

Use words, pictures or work samples to show the different levels.
Here are some ideas for getting students to contribute to the descriptors for each criterion on the rubric using the “Descriptors by Students” sheets in Expressive Monkey’s Rubric Kit


Recording Student Input

Write by Hand

• Have students generate ideas describing what each level would look like. (Only use the 3 levels from the rubric students are about to use.) As students are talking, write them out on each sheet. You can write complete sentences or just the keywords.

Use Student Examples

• Open the PNG file on the computer in Ppt and insert a sample of each level in the open space. To get a sample of each level, you will need to photograph student work (not from the class), or your own work that shows what each level might look like. Then ask students to tell why they think (or don’t think) you are showing them a good example of that level. You can do this during a Ppt for the lesson, or print them out and display them on the board.

Dry Erase Marker

• Laminate each sheet and write on them with a dry erase or another washable marker for each discussion. You could also have students do the writing for you.

Sort Work As A Class

• Put the 3 sheets on the board. Pass out work from another class (names are hidden) and have students put them under the level they think they belong based on a particular level of performance. Have student defend their choices.




Using emoji’s makes self-assessing more fun for students.  Having students give input about each level of performance helps them understand each level better and gives them some control over  how they are being assessed in art.



  • How can you make your rubric easier and more fun for students?
  • How can you get input from students on what to assess and what each level would look like?

For More Information:

You can read more about Assessments with Writing in Expressive Monkey’s blog post.

You might also want to read about Assessing the Thought Process.

Social & Emotional Learning in Art

Click on this image to get a free copy of this infographic.

Remind yourself and others of the social and emotional benefits of art. This is a great graphic to include in parent newsletters or display in your room.

You can read more about Social Emotional Learning in Art in this blog post.

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5 students wearing backpacks facing the other direction. They are all pointing at something in front of them that we cannot see. The text says, "Getting Students Involved in Art Assessment".
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Stacey Peters

I create engaging drawing resources that help students build confidence and express themselves through art. I'm a former elementary art teacher of 25 years turned business owner. Giving you the tools you need to bring more drawing into your classroom brings me joy.

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