The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) has struck back at criticism over its plans to introduce automated essay scoring (AES) in next year’s NAPLAN.
The plan was criticised by the Federation of Parents and Citizens Association of NSW last week, as well as by leading US academic Les Perelman, who reviewed a 2015 ACARA paper on behalf of the NSW Teachers Federation.
But ACARA has said one of the main reasons it was introducing NAPLAN Online was to reduce the time frame between students taking the test and receiving the results, meaning results could be used to inform teaching and learning programs earlier.
“Autoscoring systems, which can mark thousands of essays efficiently, consistently and compare favourably to the marks of teachers, are key to providing results in weeks instead of months,” the authority said.
“While autoscoring systems should not be used to mark just anything, they have proven to be very suitable for the assessment of NAPLAN writing, which is marked using a set of 10 criteria.
“Based on the statistical data to date, the marking deviations between automated systems and humans are no different than the statistical deviations between two different human markers.”
ACARA said significant research and stakeholder engagement had been undertaken to ensure the successful rollout of NAPLAN Online, with ACARA's extensive research over the last six years indicating automated marking was as reliable and valid as human marking.
New research findings are set to be released in November.
“When NAPLAN moves online in 2018, NAPLAN writing will be marked by human markers with automated scoring being undertaken in a double marking trial of the automated system,” ACARA said.
“Decisions about the use of automated scoring beyond 2018 will be based on 2018 experience and data. This is to provide reassurance that automated marking achieves scores comparable to human markers, but faster.
“Making a difference to the learning outcomes of students is what matters most, and automated scoring should be supported as a valid, effective and progressive tool that will assist that cause.”