William Condon’s “Why Less is More: What We Lose by Letting a Computer Score Writing Samples”

12 Nov

Rank: 1 –> Condon’s chapter supposes that “all the claims in favor of machine scoring” do “what human raters do,” and with those assumptions, Condon provides a handful of losses that inevitably accompany AES.

Argument: Citing [1] the loss of control over the construct “writing” to an outside agency, the loss of local assessment and the expert rater, [3] devaluation of lore and consensus about writing standards and expectations, and [4] the loss in local agency (students’ and teachers’ level of confidence in the text), Condon shows what is pedagogically, institutionally, and economically lost with AES.


  • local assessments are better than national assessment
  • improved instruction accompanies a culture of assessment at the institutional level 
  • teachers are (the most) reliable raters
  • validity is more important than reliability
  • portfolios necessarily promote conversation about learning 

Points of interest:

  • some institutions pair humans and machines to assess (215)
  • schools can order customized tests (more local tests) from testing companies (215)
  • argues that machines cannot read, they look “at physical features of a text that, separately, are associated with a certain level of performance (211-212)
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Posted by on November 12, 2013 in Uncategorized


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