Rubrics are often used in alternative assessments in education but have gained ground as a way of establishing written guidelines or standards of assessments for formal professionally administered essay tests like some of the teacher assessment exams found in the PRAXIS series.
In alternative assessment rubrics are designed to reflect the processes and outputs of "real-life" problem solving. It is usually in the form of a matrix with a mutually agreed upon negotiated contract or criteria for success. The rubric focuses on stated objectives, which should be tied to the educational standards as established by the community, and should use a range or scale to rate the performance.
The advantages for teachers is that rubrics force clarification of success in the classroom, establishing clear benchmarks for success. Because students are active participants in the formulation of the rubric, they are aware of the standards, their peers have helped form those standards, and the overall sense of the evaluation or assessment is transparent and therefore fair.
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