Stop Automated Grading of Essays

Target: Arne Duncan, United States Secretary of Education

Goal: Stop an automated essay grading program from being used in universities.

EdX is a nonprofit educational organization created in collaboration between Harvard and The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  Its focus is centered mainly on free online education, but lieu of its recent success, it has begun to expand its technological prowess to creating an automated system for grading papers and essays.

The technology uses artificial intelligence to give instant feedback to students who can then rewrite their paper as many time as they like in hopes of better grades. Ideally this free program would enable professors to take on other tasks, but in reality it greatly limits students access to personalized feedback and degrades the educational system.

Professionals Against Machine Scoring of Student Essays in High-Stakes Assessment is a group created to stop the implementation of EdX’s grading program.  Les Perelman, founder of this group and director of writing at MIT, aptly said, “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.”  As proof of the programs inability to correctly grade papers, Mr. Perelman wrote numerous essays full of complete nonsense that received high grades due to the nature of the program.

In addition to flaws in the grading process, the program will also drastically cut down on personalized criticism from professors. Especially at the collegiate level, the most powerful learning tool is the interaction between student and professor and the evaluation from accredited experts.

Please sign this petition and keep automated grading for papers and essays out of universities.


Dear Mr. Duncan,

The new program being developed by EdX, which automatically grades papers and essays, must not be allowed to get a foothold in education.  While the implementation of this program would free up professors to focus on other tasks like research and publications, the artificial intelligence has numerous problems correctly grading papers, and it greatly limits students’ access to personalized criticism from accredited experts.

Computers cannot read, as we know. They can’t understand the poignancy of arguments, the strength of evidence, quality of organization, or clarity of an overall essay.  Consequently, artificial intelligence should have no business grading papers for students, let alone those paying thousands of dollars a year to attend university.  Please ensure this program stays out of colleges around the nation and keep education on a personal basis.


[Your Name Here]

photo credit: Ryan Hyde via Flickr

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One Comment

  1. J Davidson says:

    Machines are awesome, but there’s a limit.

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