Essay tests soon could take a high-tech twist in Michigan classrooms: State education officials want to launch a pilot project this school year that would use a computer program to grade students' essay exams.

The futuristic technique--which, until now, has been employed mostly by pioneering school systems looking to give students more writing practice without creating more work for already overburdened teachers--first might be tested in Michigan with a relatively small group of sixth-graders, but if it succeeds, it could be ramped up statewide.

Using computers instead of people to grade essays could save


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