“Large-scale assessment, locally-developed measures, and automated scoring of essays: Fishing for red herrings?” by William Condon (from Assessing Writing 18 (2013); pages 100–108)

14 Nov

Rank: 0 (“Because these tests underrepresent the construct as it is understood by the writing community, such tests should not be used in writing assessment, whether for admissions, placement, formative, or achievement testing” (Condon 100).

Argument: The real problem is that what AES allows us to do (conveniently assess masses using one standard) is “too constraining” and “severely under-represent[s] the construct, writing, yet purport[s] to measure that construct effectively” (101). Basically, a 25 minute (or slightly more or less) assessment (scored by either human or machine) is not enough to produce a good assessment (101 and 103).

Assumptions: Machines can offer superficial feedback on things like grammar and syntax because they can count, but they are of no use until they can understand and assess content (102). Using them pervasively is unwise (102)

Points of interest:

  • We’re in danger of compromising what is a rich construct for the sake of profit. What is that going to do to our students?
  • Condon’s great validity table/chart is on page 104.
  • He suggests that placement should be non-vertical; that is, instead of sorting students into places on a curricular totem pole-like spectrum (with remedial at the bottom, traditional in the middle, and honors at the top), Condon advocates a system where we adhere more to a traditional curriculum, and give remedial students supplemental work and help (106).
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Posted by on November 14, 2013 in Uncategorized


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