Automated essay scoring engine LightSide Labs will be joining Turnitin this fall. This acquisition will begin the integration of LightSide’s writing assessment platform with Turnitin’s global writing originality checking and grading system. Over 10,000 institutions who currently use Turnitin’s grading system will see changes in their service with 24 million students worldwide impacted by the integration.

During a call with Elijah Mayfield, Founder and CEO of LightSide, he mentioned that while looking at the market to expand their work in high schools last July, Turnitin’s established reach in high schools appealed to LightSide’s desire for impact.

“We’re trying to change the narrative around automated lesson scoring – we want to reinvent schools through the classroom,” said Elijah. “We thought it would be more exciting to join Turnitin in the reimagining of literacy tools in the classroom, than to expand through venture capital.”

Founded in 2013 by Carnegie Mellon researchers, LightSide Labs’ technology uses machine learning algorithms to understand how instructors grade writing, while providing real-time feedback for students. The Lightside technology acts as an automated writing tutor by suggesting revisions and positive and constructive feedback for students. Teachers receive suggested scores to assist in the reviewing and grading of student work.

Acquisition news follows LightSide’s recent Gates Foundation funded successful pilot and prototype of the software that engaged 2000 teachers in January. LightSide’s credibility in the grading space is newfound but well established as its effectiveness was proved in a study sponsored by the Hewlett Foundation. When compared to other platforms, LightSide was the only university sponsored platform and it requiring less training than competitors.

Turnitin will gain a several benefts with the LightSide acquisition:

  • Better Feedback – Provide students real-time feedback on writing that is aligned to instructional goals and mapped to standards and learning outcomes.
  • Engaged Students – Keep students involved with writing as a process, automatically suggesting next steps and encouraging students to keep working – especially underserved populations who struggle with the stress of teacher intervention.
  • Relief for Teachers – Make writing assignments manageable for instructors, who often feel unable to keep up the quality of personalized feedback and grading amidst growing class sizes and higher, shifting standards.
  • Greater Insight – Give instructors and school administrators better insight into the process that students work through and how they respond to feedback, giving information they need to support their students.
  • Support for Standards – Provide curated writing prompts and activities for teachers, aligned to support Common Core State Standards and helping to prepare for CCSS assessments, with meaningful feedback to support students directly. Much like the work of Curriculum Associates.

For more information on LightSide, see:

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