Implementing the Right Marking or Grading System

An effective marking scheme is an important part of any teaching. Yet many of us don't think about what marking scheme to use, just defaulting to something we've been shown. So how can you ensure that you have an effective marking scheme?

What marking is for?:

It's easy for the focus of marking to become about people who aren't in the classroom. Lots of ticks and crosses for parents to see in the books. Curriculum-oriented comments that will please inspectors and managers. Scores out of ten so that you can show patterns of improvement in end of year reports.

But to be most useful marking should be about pupils and about your interactions with them. For you it should provide information about progress, helping you to identify where lessons haven't fully sunk in and to plan future lessons. For pupils it should be a source of learning, something that helps them to improve on what they've already achieved, as well as a source of rewards and encouragement. It's about informing them and motivating them, even if this is through showing them gaps to work on.

Meeting requirements:

Of course you have to work within the framework given to you. If your school requires numbered marking on each piece or a grade from A to F, then use it. But think about how you're using it. What does it tell the pupil, and what comments can you add to affect that message? What are you learning from those A's and F's? Make sure that you're empowered by the tools you are given, rather than following them as a tick box exercise.

Suiting your class:

If you have freedom to choose your marking system, then try to pick one that suits your class, both in age and temperament. Young children may prefer the bright colours of traffic light systems or smiling faces for approval. If there are few visual learners in the class then you may not want to include detailed written feedback, but instead highlight key points verbally at the start of the next lesson. Do you have pupils who will take pride in having their results shared, or who will be embarassed at being singled out? Factor this in when deciding how to feed back and discuss results.

Suiting you:

Don't forget that as a teacher you are part of the class too. The marking scheme needs to make sense to you so that you can apply it quickly and instinctively. And don't make it overly complicated. It's tempting to listen to lots of advice and come up with a grand, impressive scheme that does everything at once. But it's better to start simple and manageable, then add extra widgets, like performance charts and folders for your own future development, as you go along.

Using advice:

There's plenty more advice on marking out there, so if you want more to get your teeth into try some of the articles below. Good luck, and good marking!

Some useful articles on marking:



More about marking teaching school

Andrew Knighton

About Andrew Knighton

I'm a writer and ex-teacher. You can find more of my writing on education at: I also have a blog on reading and writing:

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