Computers or Teachers for Grading?


By: Sarah Obujen

You suddenly realize you forgot to print out your final essay for English class, and now you have to rush into the library before you class starts, to hopefully print your paper out on time. This might be a problem in a few years. No more; “my printer broke” or “My printer was out of paper.” or the classic “My printer was out of ink.”  Now, with electronic grading, essays will be turned in online, and graded online.

Our school uses for grading and checking for plagiarism. The site itself checks for plagiarism by comparing the essay submitted other essays articles on the internet, research papers, and books. gives a percentage of how similar the essay turned in is compared to others. For example, if you turned in an essay with a paragraph copied and pasted from another article with out quoting it, would catch that you pladragized a paragraph, and would alert your teacher. They compare the content in your paper by running it through a large database of essays, information, websitites and books, to make sure your essay isn’t copied from one of them. In fact, has 40+ billion web pages, 300+ million student papers and 130+ million academic books and publications that they compare your essay to, for any signs of plagiarism.Then, the teacher can manually insert comments, grammar or spelling corrections, and even leave comments to explain their corrections. The website also with a date and time stamp, and will alert the teacher if an essay is late. Mrs. Hermens, who is an English teacher for freshmen and seniors here at SRVHS, uses to grade all of her essays. “I have mixed feelings about electronic grading. I do like that it saves paper, and I can use it on my ipad, which is much easier than bringing a huge stack of paper with me everywhere. The only problem I have with is, that the grammar checker doesn’t work too well, and the comments take forever to add.”

Essay grading may even become more advanced, and have the computer grade the entire essay for the teacher. A computer can’t “read” an essay, but it can, robotically, pull out every feature of a text that it can find, every word, and every phrase. Although, a professor named Dr. Les Perelman, from MIT entered an essay into a computer grading system, in complete gibberish, but the essay contained perfect sentence structure, spelling and grammar. The professor got A+  on his paper, even though the paper had no real content. Computers can’t read a paper, or the content of a paper. A computer can be programmed to read grammar and spelling mistakes, but it can not read and essay, w “I think essay grading by a computer is a bad idea,” Says Mrs. Heremens. “When a teacher reads an essay, it shows them the student’s ‘voice’. A computer can’t read that ‘voice’, emotion, and feeling in a student’s writing.” Mrs. Heremens admitted. “When a computer grades an essay, there is less connection between a student and teacher. The teacher doesn’t get to know the student as well, as when they read their essays.”  Although these systems are mostly being used by colleges and universities, they may expand into other schools. In a few years, electronic grading may become a reality here at San Ramon Valley.

In fact, there is a group called Professionals Against Machine Scoring of Student Essays in High-Stakes Assessment. This is a group of mostly professors, teachers, and students who don’t agree with computer grading. They are trying to raise attetion on how computer grading can harm a student’s eduaction. This group is completely against computer graded papers and essays. “Let’s face the realities of automatic essay scoring,” the group’s statement reads “Computers cannot ‘read.’ They cannot measure the essentials of effective written communication: accuracy, reasoning, adequacy of evidence, good sense, ethical stance, convincing argument, meaningful organization, clarity, and veracity, among others.” This group had collected 4,116 signatures as of March 12, 2013. They hope to stop the use of standardized tests for class placement, achievement placement, graduation, college experience, or teacher qualification. the use machine scoring for essays or standardized tests.

Electronic grading may arise sometime in the rest of our years of school. For some seniors (or maybe even juniors) may not ever have to worry about their essay being graded by a computer in high school. But, colleges are starting to use this technology too!  But, for most of us, electronic grading will most likely appear sometime in our future in high school or college.  Agree or disagree, with artificial intelligence grading your essay or paper, this easily could be the future of your education and essay writing. Someday, we might be hearing about our children’s essay’s being graded all by a robot. Then, we will remeber our teachers hand written marks, in red ink all over our final essay. Sometime in the future, thsoe days will be behind us, maybe sooner than we think.