Prize Means More Writing, Deeper Learning for American Students

With the support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Open Education Solutions announced the winners of the $100,000 Automated Student Assessment Prize (ASAP) this morning in Washington DC.   The top three teams, made up of international data scientists, developed predictive algorithms that were able to score thousands of essays very quickly with remarkable accuracy compared to expert graders.
Five important conclusions can be drawn from the first phase of ASAP:

  1. State aspirations for affordable tests that incorporate more writing and faster feedback are well founded.  The two consortia developing new online tests will be able to incorporate a significant amount of writing to better measure deeper learning and progress toward college and career readiness.
  2. Tech tools will leverage teacher talent.  Teachers can expect more writing from students when they have powerful tools that provide instant multi-trait feedback.
  3. Talent is global.  The competition attracted data scientists from around the world and, as the winning team illustrated, many self-organized into super efficient teams.
  4. Prizes efficiently accelerate and focus innovation.  The Hewlett Foundation funded prize mobilized talent and investment achieving a significant advance in the sector for a relatively modest investment.
  5. Platforms scaffold innovation.  The platform and new data mining tools make it possible to attack mountains of data and extract new understandings and powerful capabilities.

This competition follows a February vendor demonstration designed to gauge the state of the field.  The study can be found at
Next in the ASAP sequence is short answer questions—a more difficult scoring challenge.
The full press release and a description of the winning teams can be found here.
For more, see these GettingSmart posts:
Measurement is Friend Not Foe to Creativity
Setting the Story Straight on Essay Scoring
How Formative Assessment Supports Writing to Learn
Auto Essay Scoring Headlines NCME, Addresses Critics
Automated Essay Scoring Demonstrated Effective in Big Trial
Less Grading, More Teaching, Deeper Learning
Deeper Learning Not Lighter Journalism
Getting Ready for Online Assessment
Hewlett Sponsored Assessment Prize Draws Amazing Talent
Hewlett Foundation Sponsors Prize to Improve Automated Scoring
How Intelligent Scoring Will Help Create an Intelligent System

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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