Technology Empowers Students to Practice Writing and Get Fast Feedback Online
Upper Saddle River, New Jersey – January 14, 2001 – Pearson Education, the world’s leading education company (a business of Pearson plc, NYSE: PSO) has reached an exclusive agreement with ETS Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Educational Testing Service, to bring online essay scoring tools to fourth through 12th grade language arts programs across the nation.
The scoring service, called CriterionSM Online Writing Evaluation, allows students to submit their essays online and receive nearly instantaneous feedback. The announcement follows closely on the heels of the passage of the Education Bill, which focuses on improving academic performance in part by increasing testing and accountability. Both companies believe that Criterion can play an important role in helping to accomplish some of the legislation’s key educational goals.
“Criterion extends learning beyond the classroom,” said Martha G. Smith, President of Pearson Education Secondary Group. “It enables students to work independently – at home, at the library or computer lab – personalizing the learning experience and encouraging practice. This is a clear case where technology really can make a difference in teaching and learning.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Pearson will license the subscription-based service to academic institutions and instructors at the middle school and high school levels. Students can access a password-protected Web site, follow instructions to submit essays on predetermined topics, and then receive an overall score based upon a specific set of scoring standards. Users may also view online diagnostic feedback that analyzes elements of sentence structure, usage and mechanics, and highlights potential errors in these areas.
The Criterion service is powered by a proprietary ETS technology called e-rater™, which has been used since early 1999 to score essay responses for the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT®). Ten years of natural language processing research has gone into developing the e-rater system; scientists at ETS explored ways of accurately and directly measuring topic content, organization of ideas and syntax variety using current techniques available in Natural Language Processing (NLP) – a sub-field of artificial intelligence – and Information Retrieval (IR). The agreement rate between e-rater and expert readers on GMAT essays consistently exceeds 98 percent.
“What may once have sounded like science fiction is now a valid means of fairly scoring writing samples,” said Richard Swartz, President and CEO, ETS Technologies. “With the new focus on online testing, the time is right for proven applications like Criterion to assist in the academic growth of our future leaders.”
Prior to Pearson Education’s exclusive agreement for the sixth through 12th grade market, ETS Technologies had piloted the program in more than fifty schools and colleges across the country in fall 2000 and has incorporated their feedback to enhance its current offering. The Criterion Online Writing Evaluation service is also available for first and second year college levels, the graduate level, and English language training. E-rater scoring is currently available with 64 essay topics appropriate for grades six through 12.
With offices in 33 countries, Pearson Education is the world’s leading education business. Its brands include Addison Wesley, Allyn & Bacon, Benjamin Cummings, Longman, Prentice Hall, Pearson Learning, Scott Foresman, and NCS Pearson. Pearson Education is the global leader in online learning with over 1,800 textbook companion Web sites, NCS Learn, the InformIT portal for technology professionals, and Pearson’s Learning Network, the award-winning learning portal for parents, teachers, and children. Pearson is the global education business of Pearson plc (NYSE: PSO), the international media group.
For more information, visit www.pearsoned.com .
ETS Technologies, Inc. is a subsidiary of Educational Testing Service, Princeton, NJ. Established in May 2000, ETS Technologies, Inc. was formed to advance EST’s many technological innovations in the field of assessment. Its goal is to identify, develop and deploy innovative technologies in support of online learning and assessment applications. Through ongoing, scientifically based research, ETS Technologies aims to expand and improve educational opportunities by harnessing proven technologies in the service of learning.
To learn more about e-rater™, Criterion, and ETS Technologies, visit www.etstechnologies.com.