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$100,000 in prizes for computer modelers who can predict students' essay scores

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There is a contest underway at Kaggle that's trying to find the best model for automated essay grading. A total of $100,000 in prizes is available for the top three modelers.

robot shutterstock
robot shutterstock

Do you think you can write a computer model to accurately score students' essays? If so, Kaggle (a platform for predictive modeling competitions) is hosting a $100,000 competition called the Automated Student Assessment Prize that you should look into. Competitors' models need to be able to predict the human scores of a stack of essays, and the writers of the three best models get to split up the cash ($60,000 for first place, $30,000 for second, and $10,000 for third).

It turns out that a lot of people in education, including competition supervisor Mark Shermis, think that teachers would give more writing assignments if they could get some automated help grading them. We can see the appeal — grading essays by hand is a burdensome, time-consuming chore, but do we really want to leave it to the robots? Thomas Jehn, director of the Harvard College Writing Program had this to say (via Reuters): "I like to know I'm writing for a real flesh-and-blood reader who is excited by the words on the page. I'm sure children feel the same way."