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posted by hubie on Monday March 11, @03:43PM   Printer-friendly
from the complaints-department-5000-miles-> dept.

In a notable shift toward sanctioned use of AI in schools, some educators in grades 3–12 are now using a ChatGPT-powered grading tool called Writable, reports Axios. The tool, acquired last summer by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, is designed to streamline the grading process, potentially offering time-saving benefits for teachers. But is it a good idea to outsource critical feedback to a machine?
"Make feedback more actionable with AI suggestions delivered to teachers as the writing happens," Writable promises on its AI website. "Target specific areas for improvement with powerful, rubric-aligned comments, and save grading time with AI-generated draft scores." The service also provides AI-written writing-prompt suggestions: "Input any topic and instantly receive unique prompts that engage students and are tailored to your classroom needs."
The reliance on AI for grading will likely have drawbacks. Automated grading might encourage some educators to take shortcuts, diminishing the value of personalized feedback. Over time, the augmentation from AI may allow teachers to be less familiar with the material they are teaching. The use of cloud-based AI tools may have privacy implications for teachers and students. Also, ChatGPT isn't a perfect analyst. It can get things wrong and potentially confabulate (make up) false information, possibly misinterpret a student's work, or provide erroneous information in lesson plans.
there's a divide among parents regarding the use of AI in evaluating students' academic performance. A recent poll of parents revealed mixed opinions, with nearly half of the respondents open to the idea of AI-assisted grading.

As the generative AI craze permeates every space, it's no surprise that Writable isn't the only AI-powered grading tool on the market. Others include Crowdmark, Gradescope, and EssayGrader. McGraw Hill is reportedly developing similar technology aimed at enhancing teacher assessment and feedback.

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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by mcgrew on Monday March 11, @06:07PM (11 children)

    by mcgrew (701) <> on Monday March 11, @06:07PM (#1348276) Homepage Journal

    Lazy, my ass. Teachers are overworked and underpaid, at least American public school teachers. ChatGPT shouldn't be used in a college setting, but primary and high school grades, why not take some of the burden off of that poor, overworked soul?

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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Freeman on Monday March 11, @08:00PM (2 children)

    by Freeman (732) on Monday March 11, @08:00PM (#1348297) Journal

    I get that a lot of teachers are overworked and underpaid. Introducing a wildly inaccurate tool to do a job that can permanently affect young kids, sounds like a bad idea. Teachers have teacher's aides for a reason. When you note that doing things X way are hard and it's taking too long. Using a wildly inaccurate tool to get the job "done" isn't going to make things better.

    Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by aafcac on Monday March 11, @10:12PM

      by aafcac (17646) on Monday March 11, @10:12PM (#1348325)

      Yes, the solution to the problem isn't using an ML tool that may have unknown issues. It reminds me of the ML program that rated rulers as a risk factor for cancer because it appeared in so many photos that turned out to be of skin cancers.

      I remember decades ago being warned not to let Bill Gates correct my work. Spelling and grammar checks at the time were rather primitive, but the situation hasn't necessarily improved enough to even consider using ML for this.

      That being said, not every teacher gets an aid, but there are other ways of getting students timely feedback other than farming it out to ML. Things like peer review and discussing each other's work can be just as effective when done properly as grading the paper.

    • (Score: 5, Touché) by acid andy on Tuesday March 12, @09:35AM

      by acid andy (1683) on Tuesday March 12, @09:35AM (#1348385) Homepage Journal

      Well I guess the kids will learn early that the system is highly unjust and to be highly critical of anything someone in authority tells you. At least, the ones smart enough to notice will. Seems like a better lesson than the regular programming.

      Consumerism is poison.
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Reziac on Tuesday March 12, @03:05AM (7 children)

    by Reziac (2489) on Tuesday March 12, @03:05AM (#1348358) Homepage

    What is your definition of overworked and underpaid? Serious question. Because while I don't claim to know what's fair, I'm tired of "overworked and underpaid" being stated with no attached evidence.

    Should they be paid for results, like everyone else who is supposed to produce a product (in this case an educated child)??

    I recently had cause to look up teacher salaries in California (admittedly an expensive place to live, but not THAT much more than everywhere else -- having lived both there and here, the diff is about 20%) and it was running around $100k/year, for 9 working months.

    In many systems the number of administrators has exploded. When I was in school the ratio of teachers to admin was about 50:1; last I looked in CA it was 4:1. How may of those do real work, why are they paid as much as $600k/year, and how much more of that money should be going to teachers? (And however did we get along without so much admin until relatively recently??)

    And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Common Joe on Tuesday March 12, @03:21AM (2 children)

      What is your definition of overworked and underpaid?

      Valid question which I won't answer in details because it's pretty much a cliche that 90+% of the population is overworked and underpaid. However, I will say my friend works three jobs to make ends meet, and only one of those jobs is teacher. To me, that is the epitome of overworked and underpaid.

      Your point about administrators is spot on, though. We are too top heavy. In fact, I rather believe a large part of all of our problems (not just education) is simply because of bureaucratic incompetence and chaos.

      • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Tuesday March 12, @03:29AM

        by Reziac (2489) on Tuesday March 12, @03:29AM (#1348367) Homepage

        "I rather believe a large part of all of our problems (not just education) is simply because of bureaucratic incompetence and chaos."

        There ya go. Bureaucracy has become Junk Fills the Space Allotted. And they're doing the allotting.

        Pournelle's Iron Law in action.

        And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
      • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Tuesday March 12, @02:26PM

        by Freeman (732) on Tuesday March 12, @02:26PM (#1348408) Journal

        How are you supposed to be able to hold a job while incompetent without a little (or a lot) of chaos?

        Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
    • (Score: 5, Informative) by VLM on Tuesday March 12, @07:48PM (1 child)

      by VLM (445) on Tuesday March 12, @07:48PM (#1348446)

      last I looked in CA it was 4:1

      You're pretty far behind the times. Here's a nice federal website []

      I live in a civilized area, aka far away from the coasts. The school district my kids attended has approx 800 licensed teachers, oddly more secondary than elementary although not by much (I always thought when I was a kid secondary had larger classes than primary, but they have more secondary teachers total than primary, weird). The "Other Staff" is 650 FTE so your ratio is rapidly nearing 1:1 now. About 125 are instructional aides making about $11/hr. That has a high paying pyramid of supervisors of course (they don't directly report to teachers, they have 15 supervisors for the 125 aides to report to). There's about two dozen guidance counselors, they do approximately nothing AFAIK. Roughly one psych and one librarian per building and 0.5 assistant librarians per building (Used to have three minimum wage assistants per secondary library when I was a kid and people still read books; not entirely clear what the library does in this era of all kids having an iPad...) Each building has roughly one district level admin, two district level admin support, two local admins (principals and asst principals) and two local admin support (school secretary type ladies). About 250 are in support services which includes everyone from janitors to groundskeepers to lunch ladies, essentially the blue collar people who make the school "go" but do not teach or "administer".

      Schools in my state contract out for bus service but have W2 employee lunch ladies, it seems every district in the country is randomly different so ratios will vary a little.

      I would hazard a guess that employment patterns aside from firing two library aides per school has not changed since I attended gen-x schools, but allocation has changed such that lunch ladies, teachers aides, and janitors are now budgeted as admin staff, resulting in the new era of roughly 1:1 ratio of licensed classroom teachers vs admin staff.

      Note that the two fired library aides make $18.48 today per an independent Google search. So, more than McDonalds, but less than Panda Express that pays $25/hr. And $18.48 sounds bad but it comes with benefits in this district. Bus drivers make $22.50 no bennies off an independent-ish contractor and it's kind of an indentured servant or slavery scam where they pay for 'free' CDL but you are their slave if you don't work for more than, I believe, two years at $22.50, I am told they "claim" the CDL training is worth $15K or something like that if you want to quit early. Your typical CDL makes $35/hr in my town according to Google (not max or min, average) so essentially all bus drivers quit every other year. They're having severe bus staffing problems in this district. If they just paid $35 they wouldn't have staffing and training problems, but the usual penny wise pound foolish stuff...

      In my district the feds provide pocket change, state income tax provides about 40% and local property tax provides about 60% of funding. They pay about $17K per student per year, which isn't that much compared to college tuition (and this includes lunch which somehow costs damn near $2K/kid/year AFTER the parents partial pay for lunch) As a point of comparison in my district they spend about the same amount per year per kid on capex (mostly construction) as they do on 'non-instructional support and admin'

      • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Wednesday March 13, @01:14AM

        by Reziac (2489) on Wednesday March 13, @01:14AM (#1348483) Homepage

        Behind, indeed (probably been ten years since I looked). I knew some universities had more administrators than professors, but didn't know the infection had penetrated down to lowly public schools!

        I expect a good half of the staff bloat is trying to keep up with Dept of Edu BS... how about we abolish that and see how it goes??

        And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
    • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Thursday March 14, @08:22PM (1 child)

      by mcgrew (701) <> on Thursday March 14, @08:22PM (#1348796) Homepage Journal

      Overworked is spending eight hours on the job, six teaching classes and two performing other duties, then spending a few hours at home grading papers. Underpaid? What other profession requiring a bachelor's degree pays so little? Before Carrie was published, Stephen King was a high school English teacher whose wife worked in a laundromat. This was around 1970 when one paycheck usually raised a family. They lived in a house trailer and drove an old junker and couldn't afford a telephone. Citation: two of his books, On Writing and Secret Windows.

      That's typical, and it's being underpaid.

      • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Thursday March 14, @08:46PM

        by Reziac (2489) on Thursday March 14, @08:46PM (#1348806) Homepage

        Consider: if teachers didn't assign so much homework, there wouldn't be so much to grade.

        There's the problem my friend ran into with his sixth grader -- six hours of homework every damn day, because every teacher assigned it like theirs was the kid's only class. That's nuts, and it doesn't teach, it just exhausts everyone.

        When I was in school, we had little to no homework until high school (none of any sort before 7th grade) and not much then. One page worth for about half our classes was a typical high school day. And we were demonstrably better-educated than what comes out of schools today.

        As I said I don't claim to know what's fair. But seems to me they're making their own beds here. If you don't want six hours of grading after hours, don't assign so damned much makework.

        As to degrees vs... []

        CA average teacher's salary, when I looked it up a couple years ago, was $100k/yr.

        And I'm sure the union looks out for their best interests. /sarc

        And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.