Are Teachers or Computers the Future of Grading?


Addie Wallace

Results from Utah Compose for the Pulitzer Prize winning article.

Are computers as good at grading essays as teachers are? A majority of high school students have, at one point or another, taken a test that has been graded by a computer, but can it edit an essay and still be accurate? Many people think that it’s different because a computer won’t fully understand the depth, relevance, creativity, and other factors included in student written essays.

A student interviewed by the Washington Post  remarked “[A] computer could not measure accuracy, reasoning, adequacy of evidence, good sense, ethical stance, convincing argument, meaningful organization, clarity, and veracity in your essay.” When teachers grade essays, they are able to read and find all these qualities students add and leave feedback to help them in the future. It takes many students years to develop good writing skills and use these techniques that computers might not understand. Many students are questioning if a computer can do the same as a teacher.

I think teachers should do their own grading. Different teachers have different ways of teaching, so the students should use that”

— Rachel Rosenberg

The Colt Roundup staff interviewed AMES student, Rachel Rosenberg, and Cottonwood sophomore, Josh Ball. When asked what they think of computers grading students’ essays they had differing opinions. Rosenberg states, “The grades the computer gives might not be correct,” while Ball said, “It’s easier…[and] it helps their workload a lot.” Rosenberg also added that “Some good reasons could be it might save the teacher some time when it comes to their workload. A bad thing is it might provide unfair measuring grading. Also, the grades the computer gives might not be correct.” She explains that she can also see why this could be helpful for teachers and how it could work if it was used properly.

While they both had conflicting feelings, Rosenberg and Ball both announced that they have multiple teachers who use this method of grading essays. Neither mentioned if their teachers also graded them on top of computer grading or just gave them that as a final score. They also had differing views on if their teachers should start using computers to grade essays. Rosenberg said, “I think teachers should do their own grading. Different teachers have different ways of teaching, so the students should use that.” She pointed out that online scoring systems might not understand the method students could use in their writing and grade it incorrectly. Ball disagreed explaining that putting everything online would help students do more work outside of class.

The Colt Roundup staff was curious about the website Utah Compose, which some teachers use to help students revise their rough drafts. Several students went online and started entering their articles from to see their scores and what the website thought of their writing. One student became curious about a Pulitzer Prize winning article and pasted it into Utah Compose. The score came back as a 25.2 out of 30, the article lost points for grammar and “development of ideas.” According to the computer, this nationally acclaimed article titled, Sexual Misconduct Claims Trail a Hollywood Mogul, contained multiple sentences that needed editing. This is just one example of how computers grade essays and the results; it could be different depending on the requirements the teacher has set up for the submission.

Many schools and teachers are now using this method of grading essays, whether it’s as a final score or to help them grade faster, this will affect how grades are done in the future. Computers grading essays is a fairly new concept that students, teachers, and parents are still forming opinions on and testing out. This could either completely change the future or die out. We will just have to wait and see.