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How are Community Projects evaluated?

Trained evaluators use our Community Project’s rubric-based assessment to score students on each of the project’s components: proposal, report, portfolio, promotional video, display, and interview. See sample project scoresheets at the bottom of this article. Our rubric-based evaluations share learner-focused feedback to give students tools for continuous growth.

Evaluators provide feedback and scores for each rubric criteria. The scores from evaluators determine the top teams and individuals in a competition. Each evaluator uses a project’s total points to determine its rank within the submissions they are scoring. Points and rankings are converted to create a composite score. This score is used to identify the top team and individual projects, by division, for placement and awards.

Scoring breakdown

Students receive quantitative and qualitative feedback in their project scores on the proposal, report, and all supporting materials. Below is a breakdown of how many points are tied to each project component. Percentages have been rounded and may not add to 100%.

Project ComponentPointsPercentages
Proposal20031%
Report20031%
Supporting Materials19030%
Overall Project609%
Total650100%

Rubric evaluation

Our rubric is a scoring guide that indicates the expectations for exemplary project documentation and is used to evaluate the quality of students’ work. The rubric is presented as a table, with criteria and descriptions of quality. Our scoresheet measures many criteria, detailed below, along four levels of proficiency. The five levels are beginning, developing, proficient, and exemplary.

Since there is no single “right” answer, our evaluations employ a variety of strategies to review student work. Performance-based evaluations assess submissions using specific criteria to measure the degree to which the project was student-led and developed. It also assesses how well students communicated their project, demonstrated their problem-solving skills, and involved their community. We take extra care to provide specific, detailed feedback in each evaluation so that students and their coaches can use their feedback to develop and improve their skills.

While authentic assessment of student learning always comes first, we also depend on our uniform evaluation guidelines to provide a fair, consistent, and reliable method for competition scoring. All evaluators must be trained and certified before evaluating student work.

Proposal

The proposal is evaluated on six areas that align to our six-step problem-solving process, and an overall holistic assessment of clarity, ownership, and creativity. The proposal captures the student’s initial plan for their project in up to 2,000 words.

AreasPointsPercentage
Step 1 – Area of concern3015%
Step 2 – Challenges identified2010%
Step 3 – Underlying problems3517.5%
Step 4 – Solution ideas2010%
Step 5 – Determination of action plan2010%
Step 6 – Action plan3015%
Overall4522.5%
Total200100%

Area of Concern

Community Projects Problem Solving Process Step 1

The first part of the proposal is the area of concern and evaluators assess this for the qualities for significance, completeness, and investigation. A well-written area of concern describes the existing community, delineates the existing problem, and incorporates factual data, demonstrating a research-based analysis of the current community situation.

Significance
Evaluators measure how students have communicated the need and importance of the community issue they intend to address as they assess significance. In a strong proposal, students will effectively establish the significance of the situation to the community and the students, and show that addressing this concern will have a positive impact on the future scene.
Completeness
Evaluators measure if students have presented a comprehensive picture of the area of concern when assessing completeness. In a strong proposal, students will provide a comprehensive description of the area of concern, and show evidence of a thorough understanding of the current situation, stakeholders, and possible obstacles.
Investigation
Evaluators measure the extent to which students have examined the situation and researched relevant issues, trends, and previous actions related to the situation when assessing investigation. In a strong proposal, students will have a comprehensive investigation of the area of concern, embedding research to show a thorough understanding of how the present situation emerged.

Challenges identified

Community Projects Problem Solving Process Step 2

Evaluators then assess the challenges students have identified in relation to the area of concern for the qualities of flexibility and insight. Well-written challenges are connected to the area of concern and clearly demonstrate both the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of the challenges.

Flexibility
Evaluators measure how well students have analyzed the situation from a variety of viewpoints when assessing flexibility. In a strong proposal, students will include challenges that incorporate varied ideas and aspects of the issue, considered from many viewpoints, demonstrating a comprehensive approach to the area of concern.
Insight
Evaluators measure how well students have shown their awareness of how the identified community is impacted by the problems when assessing for insight. In a strong proposal, students will demonstrate perceptive consideration of community stakeholders and the interrelated nature of their concerns.

Underlying Problem

Community Projects Problem Solving Process Step 3

Evaluators score the student’s underlying problem, which is based on an analysis of the area of concern and associated challenges. Students who write an excellent underlying problem demonstrate a narrowing of the area of concern to an achievable size while addressing a significant aspect of the area of concern, and clearly communicate a desired outcome for the project.

A well-written underlying problem has three parts to its structure: a concise rationale for pursuing the selected goal, called the condition phrase; a well-defined primary action goal addressing an aspect of the area of concern, known as the key verb phrase; and a justification for accomplishing the goal, or the desired result that should flow from accomplishing the action goal, which is the project’s purpose.

Focus
Evaluators measure how students have considered the scope of the underlying problem in terms of the area of concern when they assess for focus. In a strong proposal, students will narrow the goal from the entire area of concern to create a clear and manageable objective in their underlying problem.
Adequacy
Evaluators measure the significance of the underlying problem and its potential impact on the area of concern when assessing adequacy. In a strong proposal, students identify a major, important issue that, if resolved, will have a considerable impact on the identified community.
Structure
Evaluators determine if students have written the underlying problem with the correct structure. The underlying problem should have a condition phrase, a key verb phrase containing a singular action verb with its object, and a purpose, a single reason for accomplishing the key verb phrase.

Solution ideas

Community Projects Problem Solving Process Step 4

Then evaluators assess the unique solution ideas students have detailed to address the underlying problem. Well-written solutions will be relevant to the underlying problem through addressing the key verb phrase and the purpose.

Relevance to the underlying problem
Evaluators will measure how effectively solution ideas address the key verb phrase and support the purpose from the underlying problem when they assess relevance. A strong proposal will have solution ideas that demonstrate a strong connection and which are highly significant to the underlying problem.
Flexibility
Evaluators measure whether students have provided a list of diverse solution ideas with a range of ways to accomplish the goals of the underlying problem when they assess flexibility. A strong proposal will have a list of solution ideas that are varied and demonstrate a wide range of viewpoints and a comprehensive analysis of the underlying problem.

Determination of action plan

Community Projects Problem Solving Process Step 5

Evaluators then read a student analysis of the solutions as they determine which to incorporate in their action plan. Students use a thinking tool or process to determine which of their solution ideas will be incorporated into their action plan. A well-written determination of action plan will show that students have effectively applied a thinking tool/method and explained their thinking process.

Application
Evaluators measure whether students have applied an appropriate technique for determining their best solution(s) when assessing for application. A strong proposal will show that deliberate thought was demonstrated when choosing and using the method/technique to determine the best solution(s) for the action plan.
Analysis
Evaluators measure the extent to which solution ideas were examined and compared to determine the best solutions for the identified underlying problem when assessing student analysis. A strong proposal will have a thorough and effective analysis of the students’ solution ideas, leading to a selection of ideas that clearly respond to the goals established in the underlying problem.

Action Plan

Community Projects Problem Solving Process Step 6

Now that students have determined the best solution(s), evaluators read and score the action plan. Written in the future tense, a well-written action plan will thoroughly communicate the efforts students intend to implement, including descriptions of tasks, anticipated outcomes, and more.

Elaboration
Evaluators measure the extent to which students have described a complete strategy for implementing the action plan when assessing elaboration. A strong proposal will show that students have written an action plan with fully developed ideas, thoroughly considered actions, descriptions of tasks, discussion of how solutions will operate, explanations of how their proposed actions respond to the underlying problem, and the plan will feel like it is ready for implementation.
Proposed activities
Evaluators measure whether students identify major goals and deadlines with suitable time frames when they assess proposed activities. A strong proposal will include a thorough scope of activities, identified in an appropriate sequence with adequate time frames. The activities detailed in the action plan will create an effective blueprint for the project’s success.

Overall proposal

After scoring the proposal, evaluators consider the proposal holistically for the qualities of clarity, ownership, and creativity.

Clarity
Evaluators measure the ability of the students to present their ideas and efforts, and the needs of the community, in a clear and logical manner when assessing clarity. A strong proposal provides clear and thorough descriptions, demonstrates logical cause-effect thinking, and effectively communicates the students’ ideas.
Ownership
Evaluators examine the extent to which the project is student-driven when assessing for ownership. A strong proposal demonstrates that student initiative is central to the conception, development, and execution of the project, evidenced in every element of the project.
Creativity
Evaluators measure the creative, productive thinking in the proposal when assessing student creativity. A strong proposal demonstrates inventive, ingenious ideas, and unique adaptations to the community and area of concern throughout the proposal. Students who use the problem-solving process skillfully show creative thinking.

Report

After completing the proposal, evaluators score the project report, which can be up to 3.500 words about the implementation and impact of the student project. The report is evaluated on nine areas, each with multiple criteria, and an overall holistic assessment of clarity, ownership, and creativity.

AreasPointsPercentages
Relevance2010%
Organization157.5%
Resources157.5%
Community impact2010%
Community involvement157.5%
Effectiveness of action plan157.5%
Adaptation of plan157.5%
Sustainability of project impact2010%
Reflection/assessment2010%
Overall4522.5%
Total200100%

Relevance

Evaluators consider how well the implemented action plan relates to the student’s identified underlying problem as they assess relevance in the report. If students have changed the underlying problem or action plan, they should share the reasoning and justification behind their changes. A strong report will detail student actions that have excellent relationships to the underlying problem, directly relate to the key verb phrase, and support the project’s purpose.

Organization

Evaluators measure if students have clearly delineated tasks and responsibilities which are effectively organized, and implemented. A strong report will show that students have used effective project management strategies, and that tasks and responsibilities are clearly and effectively delineated.

Resources

Evaluators measure how well students have identified and utilized community resources as they implemented their action plan. A strong report will show that students identified and utilized a variety of community connections and resources throughout the completion of their project. Resources may include agencies, organizations, experts, community leaders, references, and more.

Community impact

Evaluators measure whether students have made a positive impact on their community stakeholders through the execution of their action plan when assessing community impact. A strong report will clearly show that students have made a positive impact for the future and that the situation has improved for the community as a whole.

Community involvement

Evaluators measure how well students have demonstrated outreach into the affected community and beyond when assessing community involvement. In a strong report, students will demonstrate that strong community partnerships and relationships were established to both fulfill the objectives of the project and meet the needs of the community stakeholders.

Effectiveness of action plan

Evaluators measure the extent to which the implemented student action plan accomplished the project objectives explored in the area of concern and underlying problem. In a strong report, students will show that their actions and activities were strongly connected to their underlying problem and thoroughly responded to, and improved, the area of concern.

Adaptation of plan

Evaluators measure how students used their problem-solving skills to adapt to obstacles as they implemented their action plan when assessing for adaptation of the plan. Changing or reworking the project as students learn and experience more, and sharing that process with evaluators, is considered part of the problem-solving process. A strong report will show that students used effective problem-solving skills when needed and that thorough planning and responses to obstacles prevented students from further delays in their work.

Sustainability of project impact

Evaluators measure whether students have considered how the impact of their project will continue after students’ direct involvement has concluded when measuring sustainability of project impact. A strong report will show that students have strategies in place for benefits of the project to continue within the community after the project’s conclusion.

Reflection/assessment

Evaluators measure if students have demonstrated a thoughtful and thorough analysis of the project outcomes when assessing student reflection and assessment. A strong report will show that students have conducted their own careful, honest assessment of their project actions, including objective analysis and thoughtful reflection.

Overall report

After scoring the report, evaluators consider the report holistically for the qualities of clarity, ownership, and creativity.

Clarity
Evaluators measure the ability of the students to present their efforts, accomplishments, and actions in a clear and logical manner when assessing clarity. A strong report provides clear and thorough descriptions, demonstrates presentation of their implementation, and effectively communicates the students’ ideas.
Ownership
Evaluators examine the extent to which the project is student-driven when assessing for ownership. A strong report demonstrates that student initiative is central to the implementation and execution of the project, evidenced in every element of the project.
Creativity
Evaluators measure the creative, productive thinking in the proposal when assessing student creativity. A strong report demonstrates that students have used inventive, ingenious ideas, and unique adaptations or strategies throughout the project. Students who use the problem-solving process skillfully show creative thinking.

Supporting Materials

Once scoring of the written materials has been completed, evaluators assess a project’s supporting materials. Each component is evaluated on two criteria, and then all four parts are scored holistically for written and spoken communication, visual clarity, and creativity. Percentages have been rounded and may not add to 100%.

MaterialsPointsPercentages
Portfolio3016%
Promotional Video3016%
Display3016%
Interview4021%
Overall6032%
Total190100%

Portfolio

Evaluators consider the effectiveness of the documentation and elaboration on the project in the portfolio. Students are allowed 40 single-sided pages to showcase their work, and are encouraged to add an additional page of updates for our world finals competition.

Documentation

Evaluators consider the extent to which students have documented the development and implementation of the project when assessing documentation. In a strong portfolio, students will effectively chronicle their efforts from the start of the project to the present, providing evidence to support the claims they have made in the proposal and the report.

Elaboration

Evaluators measure the extent to which students have made a complete presentation of the project when assessing elaboration. In a strong portfolio, students will explore the entire breadth and depth of the project, effectively conveying the progression of the project to evaluators.

Promotional Video

Evaluators consider the relevance and engagement of the audience when assessing the promotional video, which can be up to 3-minutes long.

Relevance

Evaluators consider how well students have connected the video to the project’s intent and how effectively they have presented these ideas while promoting the project when assessing for relevance.A strong promotional video will have show a strong connection of ideas to the project goals, enabling the audience to gain an understanding of the Project’s importance to the community.

Engagement

Evaluators measure the extent to which the promotional video draws the audience to action or involvement with the project’s goals when assessing engagement. A strong promotional video will effectively present the significance of the project to the audience so that they can understand the importance of getting involved and supporting the student’s project.

Display

Evaluators consider the relevance of the materials included in the student’s tabletop display, as well as its visual appeal to the audience. An excellent display will describe the project to the audience, without the need of a student present to provide commentary.

Relevance

Evaluators consider how well the display depicts the project as a whole. A strong display will contain an effective presentation of the entire project, displaying events comprehensively and showcasing a wide range of aspects of the project and its outcomes.

Visual appeal

Evaluators consider the overall attractiveness of the display and whether it invites interest and engages viewers. A strong display is appealing and eye-catching, and the audience is drawn to the project to learn more of the objectives and accomplishments, with no need for additional explanation from students.

Interview

Evaluators conduct interviews after reading and assessing the proposal and report and preparing questions to ask the students. The evaluator team will spend 30 minutes with each team project, and 15 minutes with individuals. Every interview is unique, but in each one evaluators will ask, “Which step in the problem-solving process was most important to your project?” Evaluators assess the elaboration in student responses and student engagement in the interview process.

Elaboration

Evaluators consider the quality and thoroughness of student responses when they assess elaboration. In a strong interview, students will respond to evaluators with fully developed, well thought out answers, and expand significantly on the ideas they have already presented in their written documentation.

Student engagement

Evaluators consider the extent to which students demonstrate ownership over their project when assessing student engagement in the interview. In a strong interview, students will show high-levels of passion, commitment, and ownership of their project.

Overall Supporting Materials

After scoring the portfolio, promotional video, display, and interview, evaluators consider the report holistically for effective written and spoken communication, visual clarity, and creativity.

Written communication

Evaluators measure the ability of students to present their ideas and efforts, and the needs of the community, in a clear and logical manner throughout their written work when assessing for written communication. High-quality supporting materials will demonstrate that students have effectively communicated their ideas, provided clear and thorough descriptions, and demonstrated logical cause-effect thinking.

Spoken communication

Evaluators consider the student’s ability to effectively communicate their project in spoken language. High-quality supporting materials will show that students have presented their project objectives effectively, have transitioned between ideas and questions well, and have conveyed the project’s importance to the audience.

Visual clarity

Evaluators measure the ability of students to present their project visually in a clear and effective manner with text, graphics, and other visual elements when assessing for visual clarity. High-quality supporting materials will show that students have visually established their project objectives and conveyed project accomplishments, with effective prose accompanying their visual elements.

Creativity

Evaluators measure the creative, innovative, and productive thinking evidenced throughout the supporting materials when assessing creativity. High-quality supporting materials will show a strong display of inventive and ingenious ideas, and unique presentations of the project, the community, or the area of concern throughout the student-created materials.

Overall Project

When evaluators have completed assessing the proposal, report, and supporting materials, they will review the project holistically. Evaluators will look for the effective use of the problem-solving process, collaboration through teamwork, and student leadership.

Problem-solving process

Evaluators consider the application of the problem-solving process throughout the entire project. A strong project will show that students have employed problem-solving strategies effectively throughout their entire project. Students show their problem-solving strategies in many ways, including, but not limited to: the use of appropriate creative problem-solving tools, consistent focus and evaluation on their identified goals, refinement of their strategies, and adaptations they make to their plan as they respond to obstacles.

Teamwork

Evaluators consider the collaborative nature of the project when assessing teamwork. A strong project shows considerable evidence that the students have not only worked together as a team, but also in collaboration with community stakeholders.

Leadership

Evaluators consider whether students have portrayed active leadership throughout their project. A strong project will show that student leadership is central to the conception, development, and execution of the project. This should be evidence throughout the entirety of the project.

Become an Evaluator

We welcome anyone in our global community to participate in our Community Projects evaluator certification process. Many alumni choose to stay connected and give back to the program as evaluators. It’s common for experienced coaches and senior division students to evaluate as well. All evaluators must complete training and certify in each program option they wish to evaluate. Contact your local affiliate for more information on becoming an evaluator. All those not connected to a local affiliate may work with our Open affiliate and/or be added to our pool of evaluators available to support needs across our global network. After successfully evaluating at the affiliate level, you may be nominated to certify as an international evaluator with an opportunity to evaluate our annual world finals competition held at our International Conference.

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April Michele

April Michele Bio

Executive Director

A seasoned educator, April Michele has served as the Executive Director since 2018 and been with Future Problem Solving more than a decade. Her background in advanced curriculum strategies and highly engaging learning techniques translates well in the development of materials, publications, training, and marketing for the organization and its global network. April’s expertise includes pedagogy and strategies for critical and creative thinking and providing quality educational services for students and adults worldwide.

Prior to joining Future Problem Solving, April taught elementary and middle grades, spending most of her classroom career in Gifted Education. She earned the National Board Certification (NBPTS) as a Middle Childhood/Generalist and later served as a National Board Assessor for the certification of others. She was trained and applied the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (MYP) in Humanities, which helped widen the educational scope and boundaries beyond the U.S. In addition, April facilitated the Theory and Development of Creativity course for state level certification of teachers. She has also collaborated on a variety of special projects through the Department of Education.

A graduate of the University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s in Elementary Education and the University of South Florida with a master’s in Gifted Education, April’s passion is providing a challenging curriculum for 21st century students so they are equipped with the problem solving and ethical leadership skills they need to thrive in the future. As a board member in her local Rotary Club, she facilitates problem solving in leadership at the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA). She is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute and earned her certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Edyth Bush Institute at Rollins College.