Automated Essay Grading

The software uses algorithms to measure more than 500 text-level variables to yield scores and feedback regarding the following characteristics of writing quality: idea development, organization, style, word choice, sentence structure, and writing conventions such as spelling and grammar.

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"If it takes a couple weeks to get back to the student they don't care about it anymore," he said. The software vastly accelerates the feedback loop." But computers are illiterate. The scores they attach to writing are based on mathematical equations that assign or deduct value according to the programmer's instructions. They do not understand how far Johnny has come in his writing and they have no special patience for someone who is just learning English.In earlier research, Wilson and his collaborators showed that teachers using the automated system spent more time giving feedback on higher-level writing skills – ideas, organization, word choice.Those who used standard feedback methods without automated scoring said they spent more time discussing spelling, punctuation, capitalization and grammar.Their scores are calibrated and analyzed for subjectivity and, in large-scale assessments, the process can take a month or more.Classroom teachers can evaluate writing in less time, of course, but it still can take weeks, as any English teacher with five or six sections of classes can attest.Writing is recognized as a critical skill in business, education and many other layers of social engagement.Finding reliable, efficient ways to assess writing is of increasing interest nationally as standardized tests add writing components and move to computer-based formats." To find out, he distributed free software subscriptions provided by Measurement Incorporated to teachers of third-, fourth- and fifth-graders at Mote and Heritage and asked them to try it during the 2014-15 school year.Teachers don't dismiss the idea of automation, he said.The benefits of automation are great, from an administrative point of view.If computer models provide acceptable evaluations and speedy feedback, they reduce the amount of needed training for human scorers and, of course, the time necessary to do the scoring.

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