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EssayTagger is a web-based tool to help teachers grade essays faster.
But it is not an auto-grader.

This blog will cover EssayTagger's latest feature updates as well as musings on
education, policy, innovation, and preserving teachers' sanity.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Latest Update: Downloadable results data!

As part of our push for new and improved data reporting, you can now download all of your results/grading data for each of your assignments. This feature is fully reverse-compatible with all existing assignments.

We don't believe in vendor lock-in so we're happy and excited to offer yet another way for you to access your results data. It's your data; it shouldn't be trapped on our servers.

What's in the download?
All of the data in the chart shown below will be included in the data download as well as a few extra fields. Here's the full list:

Using EssayTagger to level expectations within teacher teams

Teacher teams should have a common vision for what "success" means for their students. EssayTagger collects and analyzes a ton of data which can be used to create consistent expectations across the teacher team.

Whenever you grade an assignment in EssayTagger you end up with an assortment of data reports that provide a deeper insight into how your students performed, based on your evaluations.

That's all well and good, but what is the relevance to teachers operating in a team-based approach? What does the rest of the Sophomore English team care about the results from my two Soph Eng sections?

At a minimum, compare results and discuss
Maybe I find that my sections are doing reasonably well on Thesis but are still developing their skills with Counterclaims. Are the other Soph Eng teachers seeing the same thing with their students?

If so, we can talk about strategies to improve their work with addressing the opposing viewpoint.

Or perhaps we'll find that my Thesis results look stronger than the other teachers' results. Now things get interesting. Am I doing something awesome that's really working with my kids or am I just grading their theses too generously?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Latest Update: New data reports!

With EssayTagger's core platform in place, it's time to turn our attention to the incredibly rich data that is generated when you grade your essays in our system.

UPDATE 11/3:
We've already updated the charts quite a bit and have updated this post to reflect the changes!

UPDATE 11/29:
Even more improvements and two new charts! Post updated again.

UPDATE 11/30:
You can now download your grading data to Excel!

We've reached the first milestone of our major push to enhance and extend the data reporting features of the site. Today's release opens the first new data reports on a beta test basis. "Beta" in programmer lingo means it's not yet finalized, but is mostly where it needs to be. There will likely be further refinements based on instructors' feedback as well as minor bugs to be fixed.

Quick highlights
  • "Section snapshot" overall section-wide aggregate performance graph
  • "Section details" chart of all students' performance on each rubric element
  • "Individual details" in-depth view of a particular student's performance on the assignment
  • Statistically-significant outlier identification to help you focus on the students who are furthest from the pack.

All of these data reports are amazingly useful tools for teachers, but I'm particularly excited about the statistical analysis we're able to provide. You don't have to know the first thing about stats, standard deviation, or z-values; we're computing everything for you and flagging the kids that need your attention the most!

You grade, we crunch the numbers. How awesome is that?!

(see the demo video here: http://youtu.be/WZsEoAJEkv0)

"Section snapshot" overall results
This is the new default view; you'll be routed here automatically when you click "exit grading app" when you're done grading. It's the broadest view of the data and includes two charts. The goal is to provide a rough "snapshot" look at how your class section performed as a whole on the essays graded thus far:

The stacked column graph displays how many of your students fell into which quality levels when you evaluated their essays in the grading app.

Put simply: the more green, the better.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Latest Update: Common Core progression-tracking!

Grades and GPAs are just rough estimates. It's more important to keep track of which skills your students have mastered. That's where Common Core-aligned progression tracking comes in. It's a big deal.

Most of us have had this skeptical suspicion: Am I aligning my curriculum to Common Core just because some bureaucrats said I have to?

If that were all that was behind Common Core, then it would absolutely be a waste of our time.

But curriculum alignment is just stage 1. Here's the full picture:

  1. Align curriculum to Common Core
  2. Assess within Common Core
  3. Report and track student data within Common Core
  4. Develop and share remediation strategies tied to Common Core
Only at this high-level view does it all start to come together. The overarching goal is to enable apples-to-apples comparisons that can then be used to drive stage 4 where every teacher in America is creating interchangeable exercises and materials.

Let's be more concrete. EssayTagger is focused on stages 1-3, culminating in our Common Core-aligned progression tracking that was just released:

Friday, November 16, 2012

Latest Update: Language and Speaking & Listening Common Core standards added!

Based on teachers' feedback, I've added the Language and Speaking & Listening standards to our Common Core Rubric Creation Tool.

The Language standards are necessarily quite mechanical (e.g. L.9-10.2a is the semicolon) and as such are often more suited to drill-and-skill type exercises and assessments, though certainly an instructor could construct an essay rubric that included a few specific mechanical elements.

The Speaking & Listening standards are, not surprisingly, even further afield from EssayTagger's emphasis on essay assessment. However, the Common Core Rubric Creation Tool isn't limited to just EssayTagger use and teachers did request that this standard be included. And, if you're a little creative, there actually are ways to make the Speaking & Listening standards work within EssayTagger (e.g. evaluating students' self-assessments after delivering a speech).

Both of these Common Core standards were added to the tool as a direct result of teacher requests. I had intentionally passed them up when I originally released the tool.

We are incredibly receptive to instructor feedback so keep the comments coming!