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April 05, 2013

Every day corporations are looking for new ways to replace teachers with machines

Look, Microsoft Word can't even do a proper grammar check on my words. Why would I expect software to be able to accurately evaluate such a rich and nuanced endeavor as human writing? Show me a system that can separate Mark Twain, David Foster Wallace and Nabokov from well-structured gibberish and *maybe* I'll believe. New Test for Computers - Grading Essays at College Level - NYTimes.com
But skeptics say the automated system is no match for live teachers. One longtime critic, Les Perelman, has drawn national attention several times for putting together nonsense essays that have fooled software grading programs into giving high marks. He has also been highly critical of studies that purport to show that the software compares well to human graders. “My first and greatest objection to the research is that they did not have any valid statistical test comparing the software directly to human graders,” said Mr. Perelman, a retired director of writing and a current researcher at M.I.T. He is among a group of educators who last month began circulating a petition opposing automated assessment software. The group, which calls itself Professionals Against Machine Scoring of Student Essays in High-Stakes Assessment, has collected nearly 2,000 signatures, including some from luminaries like Noam Chomsky. “Let’s face the realities of automatic essay scoring,” the group’s statement reads in part. “Computers cannot ‘read.’ They cannot measure the essentials of effective written communication: accuracy, reasoning, adequacy of evidence, good sense, ethical stance, convincing argument, meaningful organization, clarity, and veracity, among others.” But EdX expects its software to be adopted widely by schools and universities. EdX offers free online classes from Harvard, M.I.T. and the University of California, Berkeley; this fall, it will add classes from Wellesley, Georgetown and the University of Texas. In all, 12 universities participate in EdX, which offers certificates for course completion and has said that it plans to continue to expand next year, including adding international schools.

April 04, 2013

Amazon is beta testing a free cover generator for ebooks

Amazon is Now Beta Testing an Automated Cover Generator for Kindle eBooks - The Digital Reader

Students at Georgia high school are pushing for a racially integrated prom, in 2013

The school has offered a prom exclusively for white students every year and students have independently thrown an official integrated prom for everyone else. Georgia Students Want To Hold The First Integrated Prom In Their High School's History | ThinkProgress
Stephanie and Keela are white and Mareshia and Quanesha are black. They’re seniors at Wilcox County High School, a school that has never held an integrated prom during its existence. “There’s a white prom and there’s an integrated prom,” said Keela. The rule is strictly enforced, any race other than Caucasian wouldn’t dare to attend the white prom. “They would probably have the police come out there and escort them off the premises,” said Keela. That was the case just last year as a biracial student was turned away by police. [...] There will still be two proms this year. Neither proms are financed by or allowed to take place at Wilcox County High School. The students said that when they pushed for one prom, the school offered a resolution to permit an integrated prom that would allow all students to attend but not stop segregated proms.

March 31, 2013

Tennessee Republican wants to take food away from families with kids who test poorly

Just like Jesus said to. Tennessee lawmaker wants to tie welfare benefits to good grades | Fox News
A Tennessee lawmaker is pushing a controversial new bill that would tie welfare benefits to students' performance in school. Republican state Sen. Stacey Campfield last week introduced the legislation, which calls for the state to cut welfare benefits to parents whose kids don't do well in class. Critics are already panning the proposal as unfair, and one that could hurt students in the end -- but Campfield is defending his idea, which he says would force parents to take a more active role in their children’s education “We’re not asking children to re-write the Magna Carta,” Campfield told FoxNews.com Monday. “A D-minus gets you through.” But state Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle told the Knoxville News Sentinel that the bill would “stack the deck against at-risk children.” “How does Sen. Campfield expect a child to do his homework when there is no food on the dinner table?” he said.