Assessing Student’s Bookwork In Middle School Mathematics

Some school assessment programs in middle school and junior high school include a mark for bookwork as part of the reporting process in some, if not all, subjects studied.

Below are a set of criteria that I have used to assess student’s bookwork in junior high school Mathematics. (Much of what follows below is my adaptation of ideas shared at a local district meeting of Heads of Mathematics during the late 1990s).

The criteria are:

1. Headings, references and dates are stated for each lesson.

e.g.: Monday Classwork/Homework


Future Maths p.238 Ex52 No.7-9

2. Working and explanations are clearly and logically shown.

3. Work has been checked (ü/x) and corrected if mistakes are found.

4. Cover of the workbook is neat and labelled – Name, Form and Teacher.

5. Hand-outs are glued into book in the correct place.

6. Book is correctly ruled up and work is neat and legible.

At this point, I would like to stress the importance of criterion 1. This is particularly important for students who miss class time through illness. By checking the student’s workbook against another student’s workbook the teacher and the sick student are able to record what was missed during the student’s absence and organise a ‘catch-up’ program.

Mathematically speaking, criteria 2 and 3 are the most important. Some teachers may give greater weighting to these two criteria in assessing bookwork.

One final point. The teacher can also train the students to do a self-evaluation of his or her bookwork or have a peer do it for them. Below are the items in a self/peer evaluation to check off with a “yes/no”.

Self/Peer Evaluation

1. All work checked and corrected. yes/no

2. Working and explanations shown. yes/no

3. Ruled up, neat and legible. yes/no

4. Headings, references and dates included. yes/no

5. Hand-outs glued into book. yes/no

6. Book cover is neat and labelled. yes/no

Standard: Almost all “yes” Very Satisfactory

“Yes” sometimes Satisfactory

Mostly “no” Unsatisfactory

With my classes, these self/peer evaluations were done a few weeks before my formal evaluation of the student’s bookwork to encourage the students to improve their bookwork. The evaluation criteria that were unsatisfactory, i.e. had a “no” grading, tell the student where improvement must be made.