Instant Essay Gratification

CollegeBoard and Khan Academy hooked up prior to the release of the New SAT in 2016 to provide some of the first study materials for the revamped exam. If you don’t recognize the name of the company CollegeBoard, then you likely have not had a student take the SAT exam. If you have a child in school don’t worry, you will soon know all about CollegeBoard. If you have not heard of Khan Academy, then prepare to be delighted – even more so if you have a child in school. CollegeBoard deals with testing and measurement of school-aged students and Khan Academy is dedicated to educating them. An example of how wonderful Khan Academy is, I learned more Algebra II in four tutorial videos than my entire year in high school. It’s pretty great for any academic lesson you don’t understand.

Anyway, the two companies have teamed up again to bring you the latest application of Artificial Intelligence to testing and measurement. Marshall Findlay with Applerouth Tutoring Services says that now your child can get instant feedback on a practice essay for the SAT exam. Now I have seen the havoc that an online grading program can wreak on an essay. It wasn’t pretty and not accurate in the things it flagged as mistakes. Enter IntelliMetric. In 2009 the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) published a study affirming the fairness of the automated essay scorer. Not only did it closely match essay scores awarded by human graders, it is also able to perform an objective analysis of sentence structure, word count, and complexity that a human reader would not have the time to complete.  Why is this attractive to CollegeBoard? They spend $2.4 million each year paying graders to evaluate essays, plus the cost of administering, transporting, scanning, and storing essays. Once the grading program is set up and installed, it’s expense is almost nothing. How long could it take to pay for itself when they stand to save $1.2 million a year?

The program is being tested via Khan Academy by letting future SAT takers practice writing essays. The young writers get an idea of where their skill is lacking and CollegeBoard gets to test drive the software before bringing it online. If you have a teen in your house, have them try it out. It could offer valuable information that might bump their score up a few points come SAT time.

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