Marking Books – views and research

Here are some interesting views, ideas and opinions about marking students’ books in mathematics.

“Marking for mathematics teachers is like occupational therapy; it stops them doing more important things.”

2. A useful document entitled “ASSESSMENT FOR ACTION – Marking and Feedback –Manageable and effective ways of marking and providing feedback to pupils” can be found at

3. Some tips on marking from TEACHERS TV at

4. Practical guidelines as well as Steps to achieving effective comment marking from

5. Laura Doggett, Head of Modern Foreign Languages at Berkhamsted School in Hertfordshire makes some interesting points on her blog at

6. Some examples of maths work that has been marked are illustrated in a document called “How to mark books effectively”

7. Here is an extract from a book called “Assessing higher order thinking in Mathematics

New Directions for
Mathematics Assessment


The nation’s attention has recently been
directed to the finding that many students have
a great deal of difficulty in solving the simplest
mathematics problems that require thinking
beyond the retrieval of practiced algorithms
Dossey et al., 1988 McKnight et al., 1987 ).
The narrow focus on “back to basics” and the
nearly unanimous decision by states and school
districts in the late 1970’s to settle for minimal
competency in mathematics resulted in exactly
the results that might have been expected. Stu-
dents have learned how to do numerical com-
putation at the expense of learning how to think
and solve problems.

A byproduct of an era of competency-
based education and accountability has been a
focus on, if not an obsession with, testing. Fall-
ing SAT scores, poor showings in comparison
with Japan and other developed countries,
and failures on competency tests have resulted
in even more tests at state and district levels.
Tests are becoming the primary and widely
accepted means for determining entry to,
progress through, and exit from educational
program of all types and levels. Satisfactory
performance on tests is becoming the sole in-
dicator of the “value added” by education.

If you need some ideas and resources that you can begin using immediately in your maths classroom to assess students, then go straight to

If you like using RUBRICS, then this is the place to go: (What is a rubric? Go here )

For information about types / purposes of assessment in mathematics, click here (See below)

The three purposes of assessment are as follows.

Formative assessment.
The purpose of formative assessment is to support and inform students’ learning. This feedback could be qualitative, eg written or oral comments. Such comments could be detailed and tailored to what the student has written, or brief indications of where students’ written work departs from model solutions.

Summative assessment.
The purpose of summative assessment is to establish the achievement of the student. In mathematics, summative feedback is most often quantitative, either a mark or a percentage. An examination provides the majority of the summative assessment in undergraduate mathematics.

Evaluative assessment.
The purpose of evaluative assessment is to measure the effectiveness of the teaching or the assessment of students. Such assessments could have quality enhancement or quality audit functions. For example, student feedback questionnaires. Examination statistics sometimes have a minor evaluative function.


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