Home > Teaching & Learning > Can You Trust Automated Grading?

Can You Trust Automated Grading?

By Scott Jaschik

If a computer can win at “Jeopardy,” can one grade the essays of freshmen?

At George Mason University Saturday, at the Fourth International Conference on Writing Research, the Educational Testing Service presented evidence that a pilot test of automated grading of freshman writing placement tests at the New Jersey Institute of Technology showed that computer programs can be trusted with the job. The NJIT results represent the first “validity testing” — in which a series of tests are conducted to make sure that the scoring was accurate — that ETS has conducted of automated grading of college students’ essays. Based on the positive results, ETS plans to sign up more colleges to grade placement tests in this way — and is already doing so.

But a writing scholar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology presented research questioning the ETS findings, and arguing that the testing service’s formula for automated essay grading favors verbosity over originality. Further, the critique suggested that ETS was able to get good results only because it tested short answer essays with limited time for students — and an ETS official admitted that the testing service has not conducted any validity studies on longer form, and longer timed, writing.

Continued at: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2011/02/21/debate_over_reliability_of_automated_essay_grading

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