Making Marking Meaningful Pt II

In the previous post on Making Marking Meaningful, we shared various practices, inspired by others, that have helped improve marking and feedback at CVC. The focus was on making marking more efficient and effective at the same time. As a result of the work we decided a new policy was needed that better reflected the principles and practices that were being developed. We decided that this policy was not to be a set of fixed practices that everyone must follow, but rather a set of key principles that would guide practice in each department. This would give each subject the opportunity to develop practices that would be best suited to learning in their subject, whilst maintaining consistency regarding the overall purpose of marking and feedback. The draft policy states:

“Marking, feedback and pupil response – A Policy

Marking pupils’ work sits within the wider context of assessment policy and practice that is designed to inform teachers, pupils and parents about the next steps in pupils’ learning. Such assessment activity becomes formative assessment when the evidence is actually used to adapt teaching and where pupils respond to feedback[1]. Therefore, assessment and marking are at the heart of teaching and learning because they help to ensure that teaching is appropriate and that pupils are making expected progress.

The following principles and guidelines will be used by faculty and/or subject teams to develop their marking policy and practice:

  1. Written feedback, whether for assessment work or day-to-day classroom work, will be used to help teachers, pupils and sometimes parents understand what to do next to enhance, improve and extend pupils’ knowledge and understanding.
  2. Whilst written feedback is a key form of feedback used to enhance pupils’ learning, it will be complemented by oral feedback to individuals, groups and classes, which will typically happen during most lessons.
  3. Marking and written feedback will be ‘regular’. This means that it will happen at reasonably recurring intervals, so that there are a number of points at which teachers will monitor pupils’ progress by marking work, giving feedback and requiring a response from pupils. Different subjects will have different patterns for what ‘regular’ means depending on the number of lessons timetabled during a week, but it will normally equate to giving written feedback at least once every 6 lessons or 2-3 weeks.
  4. Marking should be timely. In other words, feedback should come without too much delay after pupils have completed the work being marked, in order for it to have an impact on their learning and progress. The aim is to give feedback when the knowledge and ideas are still fresh in pupils’ minds.
  5. Feedback will have a meaningful impact on learning by stimulating further response from the pupil. Feedback should therefore provide prompts, hints or clues (perhaps phrased as a question, an incomplete sentence or suggestion) that push pupils to think and have to work hard for the answers, therefore helping them to learn and to address gaps in their knowledge and understanding. Pupils may, as a result, redraft or correct work in response to feedback, or use targets to improve a subsequent piece of work, showing where they have addressed an issue.
  6. Time in some lessons will typically be given for Directed Improvement and Reflection Time (DIRT), so that pupils have the opportunity to respond to feedback with the support of teaching staff where needed, or this may be set as a homework activity.
  7. All assessment work (“milestone assessments”) will receive written feedback in line with this policy. Work completed during lessons will be marked where appropriate in line with this policy.
  8. The majority of formative marking will be comment only, so that pupils focus on the feedback and not simply how well they have done (i.e. by focusing on marks or grades). However, work (such as summative tests) given a mark or grade will usually still be marked ‘formatively’ so that pupils understand what to do next and are required to respond and improve their work.
  9. Marking and feedback will relate to subject-specific learning objectives. However, it will also help pupils to improve their general literacy, particularly their spelling, punctuation and grammar.
  10. Marking practice in each faculty should be reviewed in terms of:
    1. How well it impacts on students’ learning
    2. How the above aims can be achieved more efficiently

[1] Black, P., Harrison, C., Lee, C., Marshall, B., Wiliam, D. (2004), Working Inside the Black Box: Assessment for Learning in the Classroom, (Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 86, No.1, pp.9-21)

Download a word copy here: MarkingPolicyNov15

Staff continue to find, and share, ways to make marking more efficient but have not lost sight of the important central principles of what marking is for; they continue to ask themselves whether the marking is having an impact on pupils’ learning. The school’s recent Ofsted report (Nov 2015) reflected the improvements made, and commented that, “teachers follow the academy’s marking policy and offer effective guidance for how work may be improved. Pupils…value what it tells them about their learning.” Okay, so we may not want to rely solely on Ofsted’s judgments of our effectiveness, but it’s nice when they praise the improvements that we believe are making a difference.


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