Posted in Eleanor Cawley, M.S., OTR/L

Modifying an Assessment Rubric

This blog is worth repeating. Very soon, I will be publishing my new book, “Rubrics are Meant to be Modified.” It is a collection of assessment rubrics with some examples of how to modify a rubric after you have assessed the client. You will see that modifying a rubric provides you with an infinite number of rubrics to address each individual client. Look for my new book in the next few weeks.

Eleanor Cawley, M.S., OTR/L

There are a number of ways to develop rubrics.  Many therapists are looking for rubrics that are pre-made and ready to go right out of the book.  Unfortunately, that can only be done when the rubric is an assessment rubric.  The rubric below was found on the website and is a general assessment rubric as part of a Kindergarten intake assessment.  It is meant to assess the scissors skills of all incoming kindergarteners and not collect data on a therapeutic goal for the scissors skill.  So again, this is very basic.  It is what the therapist would be looking for if the student is able to use scissors correctly.

Scissors Skills


Understands the purpose and function of scissors use.


Hold scissors using correct finger placement, and thumb facing up


Able to fully open and close blades of scissors on command.


Able to cut through a…

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I am an occupational therapist with 18 years of experience in the pediatric sector, much of that time as an independent contractor. I am very passionate about my work and my writing. My degrees include a Bachelor’s of Science in Health Sciences and a Master’s of Science in Occupational Therapy from Touro College. Since graduating as a non-traditional student, I have worked in a variety of settings throughout the life span but settled in the area of school-based therapy. My interests lie in the area of using technology to support independence and I often train students to use programming not only to monitor their own goal progress but also support educational, vocational and life skills. Another area of particular interest is documentation. As an independent contractor for many years, I feel that it is important to align methods of documenting goal progress with educators for greater consistency and understanding when writing for an IEP. It is better to plan a format for documentation used in the IEP, such as for assessment and goal progress and that a rubric, in many ways, fulfills the need for consistency in documentation across all domains. Combining my interest in technology and documentation, I use Microsoft OneNote to maintain all documentation. I create a digital notebook for each student or patient with any forms required uploaded as templates which can then be completed, and saved automatically. I strongly believe in student centered approach to therapy. Students must be active participants in developing goals and documenting progress. In order to help students understand their progress, I teach my students to develop electronic portfolios and to use spreadsheet programming with graphs to collect data and view progress, whenever possible.