Robert Yagelowich pointed this article
out to me, and like him what I read initially made me pretty skeptical. The article describes a computer program that's being used to grade student essays. Not just grade the spelling and punctuation, but the content itself. Since computers can't even be relied on to spellcheck very well, I couldn't imagine how they would grade content. I had suspicions of another ChatNannies
type of hoax. But apparently computer-grading is real. The software, called E-Rater, has been developed by Educational Testing Services, and they provide an online demo of how it works
. I used to be a teaching assistant at UC San Diego, and I graded thousands of student essays. And I have to admit that human graders are often pretty fallible. By the time you get to the bottom of a stack of essays, you're just going through those things as fast as possible, barely reading them. So maybe a computer could grade essays better than a human. The computer, at least, wouldn't grade differently depending on how much coffee it had drunk, or how little sleep it had got.