What Is an Automated Essay Scoring System & 7 Best Platforms to Use

May 30, 2024

Are you a teacher drowning in a sea of ungraded essays? Confronting piles of ungraded essays can be challenging and time-consuming. But what if I told you that there’s a solution? What if I told you that there are tools for teachers that can help you save hours on grading essays using AI? In this blog, we will dive into the world of Automated Essay Scoring, revealing how it can help educators like you streamline and speed up the grading process, allowing you more time to focus on teaching.

Looking for a way to save time grading essays? Consider EssayGrader's AI essay grader. It's a valuable tool that can help you save time grading essays using AI.

What Is Automated Essay Scoring?

man showing friend Automated Essay Scoring

Automated essay scoring (AES) is a computer-based assessment system that automatically scores or grades the student responses by considering appropriate features. The AES research started in 1966 with the Project Essay Grader (PEG) by Ajay et al. (1973).

Automated Essay Scoring (AES) - PEG System

To grade the essay, PEG evaluates the writing characteristics such as grammar, diction, construction, etc. A modified version of the PEG by Shermis et al. (2001) was released, focusing on grammar checking with a correlation between human evaluators and the system. AES systems like Dong et al. (2017) and others developed in 2014 used deep learning techniques.

Automated Essay Scoring (AES) - IEA System

  • Foltz et al. (1999) introduced an Intelligent Essay Assessor (IEA) by evaluating content using latent semantic analysis to produce an overall score
  • Powers et al. (2002) proposed E-rater and Intellimetric by Rudner et al. (2006) 
  • Bayesian Essay Test Scoring System (BESTY) by Rudner and Liang (2002).

Automated Essay Scoring (AES) - Evolution

The vast majority of essay scoring systems in the 1990s followed traditional approaches like pattern matching and a statistical-based approach. Since the last decade, however, they have started using regression-based and natural language processing techniques.

Automated Essay Scoring (AES) - Importance

AES systems are used by educational institutions, testing organizations, and online learning platforms. AES systems are designed to replicate the grading process carried out by human raters.

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5 Benefits of AI Powered Automated Essay Scoring 

female professor making use of Automated Essay Scoring

1. Efficiency And Timeliness

AI-powered assessments are highly efficient and timely. They can process and grade assignments in minutes, whereas a human grader might take hours. This speed enhances efficiency and provides students with prompt feedback crucial for learning.

2. Eliminating Bias

Unlike human graders, AI is not susceptible to biases. It evaluates assignments based on predefined criteria without being influenced by factors like gender, ethnicity, or personal preferences. This ensures fair assessments and helps create a more inclusive learning environment.

3. Adaptive Learning And Personalized Assessments

Adaptive learning and personalized assessments powered by AI represent a dynamic educational shift. These technologies tailor the learning experience to individual students, maximizing their understanding and performance.

Learning Paces for Individual Progress

Adaptive learning systems continuously assess students' progress and adjust the content and pace accordingly. For example, suppose a student excels in one area but struggles in another. In that case, the system can provide additional support in the challenging subject while allowing faster progress in areas of strength. This personalization ensures that students get the right level of challenge and support, preventing boredom or frustration.

Tailored Assessments to Enhance Student Engagement

Personalized assessments analyze a student's learning history and preferences to design assessments that cater to their strengths and interests. For instance, a student passionate about history might have a history-themed project instead of a generic assignment. This approach increases engagement and provides a more accurate measurement of a student's abilities.

4. Tailoring Assessments To Individual Learners

AI-powered tools for eLearning analyze a student's learning patterns and customize assessments accordingly. This adaptability ensures that each learner is challenged at their own pace, promoting a more personalized and effective learning experience.

5. Continuous Feedback Loops

AI provides continuous feedback to learners beyond grading. By identifying strengths and weaknesses, these tools empower students to focus on areas needing improvement. This real-time feedback loop fosters a culture of ongoing learning and improvement.

Revolutionizing Essay Grading Efficiency with AI

EssayGrader is the most accurate AI grading platform trusted by 30,000+ educators worldwide. On average it takes a teacher 10 minutes to grade a single essay, with EssayGrader that time is cut down to 30 seconds That's a 95% reduction in the time it takes to grade an essay, with the same results. 

With EssayGrader, Teachers can:

  • Replicate their grading rubrics (so AI doesn't have to do the guesswork to set the grading criteria)
  • Setup fully custom rubrics
  • Grade essays by class
  • Bulk upload of essays
  • Use our AI detector to catch essays written by AI
  • Summarize essays with our Essay summarizer 

Primary school, high school, and even college professors grade their students' essays with the help of our AI tool. Over half a million essays were graded by 30,000+ teachers on our platform. Save 95% of your time for grading school work with our tool to get high-quality, specific and accurate writing feedback for essays in seconds. 

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How Does Automated Essay Scoring Work?

man learning how does it work with Automated Essay Scoring

The first and most critical thing to know is that there is not an algorithm that “reads” the student essays. Instead, you need to train an algorithm. If you are a teacher and don’t want to grade your essays, you can’t just throw them in an essay scoring system. You have to grade the essays (or at least a large sample) and then use that data to fit a machine-learning algorithm. Data scientists use the term train the model, which sounds complicated, but if you have ever done simple linear regression, you have experience with training models.

There are three steps for automated essay scoring

1. Establish your data set (collate student essays and grade them).
2. Determine the features (predictor variables that you want to pick up on).
3. Train the machine learning model.

Here’s an extremely oversimplified example:

  • You have a set of 100 student essays, which you have scored on a scale of 0 to 5 points.
    The essay is on Napoleon Bonaparte, and you want students to know certain facts, so you want to give them “credit” in the model if they use words like Corsica, Consul, Josephine, Emperor, Waterloo, Austerlitz, St. Helena. You might also add other Features such as Word Count, the number of grammar and spelling errors, etc.
  • You create a map of which students used each of these words, as 0/1 indicator variables. You can then fit a multiple regression with seven predictor variables (did they use each of the seven words) and the 5-point scale as your criterion variable. Using this model to predict each student’s score from just their essay text, you can then.

How Do Automated Essay Scoring Systems Score Essays?

If they are on paper, then automated essay scoring won’t work unless you have an extremely good software for character recognition that converts it to a digital text database. Most likely, you have delivered the exam as an online assessment and already have the database. If so, your platform should include functionality to manage the scoring process, including multiple custom rubrics.

Some rubrics you might use:

  • Grammar
  • Spelling
  • Content
  • Style
  • Supporting arguments
  • Organization
  • Vocabulary / word choice

How Do You Pick the Features for Automated Essay Scoring Systems?

This is one of the key research problems. In some cases, it might be something similar to the Napoleon example. Suppose you had a complex item on Accounting, where examinees review reports and spreadsheets and need to summarize a few key points. You might pull out a few key terms as features (mortgage amortization) or numbers (2.375%) and consider them Features. 

I saw a presentation at Innovations In Testing 2022 that did precisely this. Think of them as where you are giving the students “points” for using those keywords, though because you are using complex machine learning models, it is not simply giving them a single unit point. It’s contributing towards a regression-like model with a positive slope.

Utilizing AI to Identify Key Patterns in Student Writing

In other cases, you might not know. Maybe it is an item on an English test delivered to English language learners, and you ask them to write about what country they want to visit someday. You have no idea what they will write about. But you can tell the algorithm to find the words or terms used most often and try to predict the scores with that. Maybe words like “jetlag” or “edification” show up in students who tend to get high scores, while words like “clubbing” or “someday” tend to be used by students with lower scores. 

The AI might also pick up on spelling errors. I worked as an essay scorer in grad school, and I can’t tell you how many times I saw kids use “Ludacris” (the name of an American rap artist) instead of “ludicrous” when trying to describe an argument. They had never seen the word used or spelled correctly. Maybe the AI model finds that to be a negative weight.

How Do You Train a Model for Automated Essay Scoring Systems?

If you are familiar with data science, you know there are many models, many of which have many parameterization options. This is where more research is required. What model works the best on your particular essay, and doesn’t take 5 days to run on your data set? That’s for you to figure out. There is a trade-off between simplicity and accuracy. Complex models might be accurate but take days to run. A simpler model might take 2 hours but with a 5% drop in accuracy. It’s up to you to evaluate.

If you have experience with Python and R, you know that many packages provide this analysis out of the box—it is a matter of selecting a model that works.

How Can You Implement Automated Essay Scoring Without Writing Code from Scratch?

Several products are on the market. Some are standalone, and some are integrated with a human-based essay scoring platform. More on that later!

How Accurate Are Automated Essay Scoring Systems Compared to Human Graders?

woman testing accuracy of Automated Essay Scoring

Automated Essay Scoring (AES) systems are a subject of ongoing debate regarding their accuracy and reliability compared to human graders. Research studies have been conducted to compare AES scores to human scores, analyzing their correlations and discrepancies. 

The consensus among psychometricians is that AES algorithms perform as well as a second human grader, which makes them very effective in this role. It is not recommended to rely solely on AES scores, as it is often impossible.

The Appeal of Automated Writing Evaluation

Despite the attractiveness of automated feedback and the numerous writing traits it can assess, using Automated Writing Evaluation (AWE) is a contentious topic. Advocates argue that AWE programs can evaluate and respond to student writing as effectively as humans but in a more cost and time-efficient manner, providing significant advantages. 

The feedback delivered by AWE programs is designed to support process-writing approaches that emphasize multiple drafting through scaffolding suggestions and explanations, promoting learner autonomy and motivation. Integrating AWE programs into the curriculum aligns with efforts towards personalized assessment and instruction, offering consistent writing evaluation across various disciplines.

Criticisms and Concerns Regarding AWE in Education

In contrast, critics express skepticism about the implications of implementing AWE in classrooms. Concerns have been raised regarding the potential negative effects of AWE on teaching and learning. For instance, there are fears that students may alter their writing to meet AWE assessment criteria, potentially undermining the learning process. 

It is also suggested that teachers might feel compelled to support such adjustments to improve test scores, which could impact their teaching practices. Some argue that AWE systems may not adequately address the social and communicative aspects of writing, as they are rooted in cognitive information-processing models.

The Need for Contextualized Research on AWE Integration

The debate surrounding the integration of AWE in writing instruction emphasizes the potential impacts of AWE, whether positive or negative. The discussion often overlooks the ecological perspective, which considers phenomena in their context and explores the interactions shaping that context. 

Empirical evidence supporting the claims made in the debate is limited, with much of the existing research focusing on decontextualized and psychometrically driven assessments of AWE validity. Scholars have called for more contextualized studies to understand how AWE can be integrated effectively, rather than solely determining if AWE is a valid assessment tool.

Evaluating AWE: Beyond Automated and Human Score Comparisons

AWE validity has been traditionally evaluated by comparing automated and human scores, which remains a fundamental aspect of interpreting AWE assessment outcomes. While this comparison is essential, it should not be the sole determinant of AWE effectiveness. 

Scholars have emphasized the need for studies focusing on the practical implementation of AWE in educational settings, shedding light on the operational aspects of AWE integration and its implications for teaching and learning. Such studies can provide valuable insights into the actual impact of AWE on writing instruction, going beyond theoretical debates to offer empirical evidence supporting or refuting claims about AWE efficacy.

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7 Best Automated Essay Scoring Software Platforms

teacher assistant using Automated Essay Scoring

1. EssayGrader

EssayGrader is the most accurate AI grading platform trusted by 30,000+ educators worldwide. On average, a teacher takes 10 minutes to grade a single essay. With EssayGrader, that time is cut down to 30 seconds, representing a 95% reduction in grading time with the same results. 

You can replicate your grading rubrics, setup fully custom rubrics, grade essays by class, bulk upload essays, use the AI detector, and summarize essays with the Essay summarizer. Over half a million essays have been graded on this platform. It is suitable for grades from primary school to college. 

2. SmartMarq

SmartMarq makes it easy to implement large-scale, professional essay scoring. It is available both standalone and as part of an online delivery platform. If you have open-response items, especially extended constructed response items, SmartMarq's online marking module can help. It offers a user-friendly, highly scalable online marking module to manage hundreds of raters.

3. Project Essay Grade (PEG)

This automated grading software uses AI technology to analyze written prose. PEG can make calculations based on over 300 measurements and provide results similar to those of a human analyzer. The software uses advanced statistical techniques, natural language processing, and semantic and syntactic analysis for fully automated grading.

4. Essay Marking Software

This automated grading program offers custom rubrics and scoring guidelines. You can establish custom marking rules, manage teams of markers, and simplify the grading procedure. It allows you to log in and score student essays based on rubrics, driving quality assessment and feedback.

5. ETS e-Rater Scoring Engine

This application automates the evaluation of essays using a combination of human raters and AI capabilities. It can generate individualized feedback or batch-process essays. The tool is versatile and can be used in various learning contexts.

6. IntelliMetric

IntelliMetric is an AI-based essay-grading tool that can evaluate written prompts irrespective of the writing degree. It drastically reduces the time needed to evaluate writing without compromising accuracy. The software offers exhaustive adaptive feedback and features a Legitimacy function to detect irrelevant or inappropriate submissions.

7. Knowledge Analysis Technologies (KAT)

KAT is an automated essay-grading software based on extensive research. It can produce consistent and accurate results and integrate with third-party services. The system includes latent semantic analysis (LSA) to compare semantic similarities between words and the intelligent essay assessor (IEA) to evaluate text meaning, grammar, style, and mechanics.

5 Best Practices for Integrating Automated Essay Scoring Systems

person trying his best to use Automated Essay Scoring

1. Establishing Validity and Reliability

I recommend ensuring that the AES system maintains **high agreement rates** with human raters to establish reliability. You should also evaluate the system's **validity** by assessing potential threats like construct misrepresentation, vulnerability to cheating, and impact on student behavior. In addition, it is vital to validate the AES system using a variety of scenarios beyond just high human-computer agreement, such as off-topic essays, gibberish, and paraphrased answers.

2. Providing Transparency and Explainability

I advise making the AES scoring process transparent to students and teachers. Explaining how the system evaluates essays is crucial to avoid students gaming the system. Ensure the AES system can provide meaningful feedback and not just a score.

3. Aligning with Pedagogical Goals

I recommend selecting an AES system that aligns with your specific writing assessment goals and rubrics. Customizing the AES system to your prompts and rubrics is also essential rather than using a generic approach. I suggest using the AES system to complement human grading, not a replacement.

4. Managing the Scoring Process

I encourage establishing clear scoring rubrics and performance descriptors. Assigning essays to raters and managing the scoring workflow efficiently is beneficial. Utilize the AES system to flag unusual scores for human review.

5. Providing Training and Support

I recommend training teachers on how to interpret AES scores and feedback. It is crucial to support students in understanding the AES system and how to improve their writing. Continuously monitor the AES system's performance and make adjustments as needed.

Save Time While Grading Schoolwork — Join 30,000+ Educators Worldwide & Use EssayGrader AI, The Original AI Essay Grader

Let me tell you about EssayGrader. It's a revolutionary AI grading platform transforming how teachers evaluate essays. Imagine this: the average teacher spends about 10 minutes grading a single essay, right? With EssayGrader, though, that time is slashed to just 30 seconds. That's a 95% reduction in grading time while maintaining the same high-quality results you'd expect from a human grader. It's no wonder more than 30,000 educators worldwide already trust EssayGrader for their grading needs.

Setting Up Grading Criteria

The genius of EssayGrader lies in how it replicates your grading rubrics. Do you know those rubrics you painstakingly create to ensure fairness in grading? With our AI tool, you don't have to leave any of it to chance. You get to set the grading criteria, and the important elements you look for in an essay, and our AI will follow them to the tee.

Customized Rubrics

You may be a teacher who wants to go beyond the standard grading rubric. With EssayGrader, you can set up fully customized rubrics. You can tweak the grading criteria to match your exact preferences. This way, you get the feedback you want from essays, every single time.

Scoring by Category

You may be a teacher who needs to grade essays by class or by topic. With EssayGrader, that's not a problem at all. You can grade essays according to specific categories, making tracking progress easier and identifying areas where students need improvement.

Bulk Uploads

Imagine a scenario where you have a pile of essays to grade in one go. That's no problem with EssayGrader. Simply use the bulk upload feature to upload multiple essays at once, saving you time and effort. It's efficient, it's quick, and it's hassle-free.

AI Detection

Now, here's a nifty feature: our AI detector. It's designed to catch AI essays, ensuring the work is authentic and original. You can rest easy knowing that the essays you're grading are the real deal—student work that deserves your attention.

Essay Summarizer

Finally, there's our essay summarizer. With this tool, you can quickly summarize essays, giving you a snapshot of each piece's main ideas and arguments. It's a handy feature that lets you get to the heart of an essay without reading through every line.

Save Time, Get Quality Feedback

All in all, EssayGrader is a game-changer for teachers. It's fast, efficient, and accurate. And with over half a million essays already graded on our platform, you can trust that EssayGrader delivers the desired results. So why waste time on manual grading when you could be saving 95% of your time with our tool? Get high-quality, specific, and accurate writing feedback in seconds. 

Get started with EssayGrader today—for free.

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