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Computer scoring of essays shows promise, analysis shows

Computers can find a good Greek restaurant, recognize a song on the radio, and beat our best players at Jeopardy. But can they grade our kids’ writing? A wide-ranging new analysis suggests that the answer is “yes,” USA Today reports. The study of automated computer essay-scoring software finds that a handful of programs are “capable of producing scores similar to human scores” on thousands of sample essays. The findings come at a crucial time for U.S. students, especially high schoolers. Under new academic standards, students must produce billions of words over the next few years. But whether teachers will embrace computer scoring to help grade all that writing is up for debate. The National Council of Teachers of English opposes “machine scored” assessments, putting its support behind “direct assessment by human readers.”

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