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Surprising Science

Software For Grading (Handwritten) Student Work

Handwritten as in "no bubbles": Next school year, copier giant Xerox plans to roll out its Ignite software to interested schools. It can grade almost any kind of paper, including essays.

What’s the Latest Development?

Xerox has announced that, starting with the 2013-2014 school year, it will make its Ignite software available to interested schools that seek to turn their copiers into grading machines. What makes Ignite unique is that it’s not a new version of a bubble test grader: With it, a copier can grade almost any non-standardized form, completed in students’ own handwriting, and then send both the grades and detailed reports about the work to teachers via a Web site. Tests done in schools throughout the US and Canada indicate that the software is very popular with both students and teachers.

What’s the Big Idea?

It’s another example of the power of Big Data to make processes — in this case, educating students — more efficient. Teachers can use the reports created by Ignite to fine-tune their lesson plan: “If every child is having problems with a certain class of math problems, for example, the software can highlight that for the teacher so he or she can review those concepts in a new way.” It can also indicate where individual students need extra help, allowing teachers to assign customized homework.

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