Traits Of A Good Pearson Essayscorer

What is Pearson EssyScorer?  EssayScorer is a writing tool that automatically scores students’ writing and offers immediate feedback while guiding them through the writing process. EssayScorer does the work of grading multiple drafts for teachers, so more time can be spent where it counts—assessing the complex Skills and Understandings students demonstrate in their final drafts. In myPerspectives on Realize, there are two types of prompts - see below. 

NOTE: It is encouraged that students write their essays first in a common word processing program like Microsoft Word®, Notepad etc. and utilize the grammar and spelling tools first before they cut and paste into EssayScorer for feedback. To cut and paste into EssayScorer, they will have to use "Paste as Plain Text" option by right clicking in the EssayScorer prompt box. 

·         EssayScorer Prompt TYPE #1: Performance Task Writing Focus Prompts in Unit Resources with Overall Score

·         EssayScorer Prompt TYPE #2: Additional Trained Writing Prompts in myPerspectives+ with Overall AND Six Traits Score and Feedback



Q: How does the Integrated Pearson EssayScorer work?

A. EssayScorer is trained to score based on hundreds of student essays that have been graded by professional human scorers. Using a technique that evaluates the meaning of text, the computer compares the content and relevant qualities of writing of each of the student responses, along with the scores given to the responses by the human scorers. From these comparisons, it derives a prompt-specific algorithm to predict the scores that the same human scorers would assign to new responses.

In short, EssayScorer measures the quality of essays by determining:

  • The language features that human scorers evaluate when scoring a response
  • How those features are weighed and combined to produce a score


Q: How does Integrated Pearson EssayScorer recognize a good essay?

A: EssayScorer assesses the content of an essay, as well as more mechanical aspects of writing. When a student submits an essay for scoring, the system immediately measures the meaning of the essay. For myPerspectives, there are two types of EssayScorer Prompts: 1) Performance Task Writing Focus which only provides an overall score since these new prompts are still be trained. 2) myPerspectives+ Additional EssayScorer Prompts which provide Overall and Six Traits scoring and feedback. For Prompt #2, EssayScorer compares the essay to the training essays, looking for similarities, and assigns a score, in part, by placing the essay in a category with the most similar training essays. Each trait is scored independently in this way. EssayScorer assesses each trait in the student essay, compares it to the training essays, and then categorizes the trait in question.


Q: How does Integrated Pearson EssayScorer's scoring compare to the way teachers grade writing?

A: EssayScorer’s approach mirrors the way that teachers grade essays. For example, when teachers evaluate a student’s essay, they look for characteristics that identify an essay as an A, B, or C paper. Their expectations are likely based on their previous experience as a grader and on criteria for the assignment in question. In other words, teachers search for a match between the essay itself and the criteria for a particular grade or score.  EssayScorer is trained to mimic this process.


Q: My students seem to be getting higher scores when they write online versus when they write on paper. Why?

A. Students are often better able to craft their responses online. There are many possible reasons for this. First, as digital natives, they are more comfortable typing than they are writing. Second, revising drafts and moving text around is often easier when composing online. Third, the feedback they receive from EssayScorer helps them to revise and improve their drafts.


Q: How does Integrated Pearson EssayScorer assign an overall score?

A: The overall score is computed by averaging the individual trait scores. The traits are scored on a 6-point scale. For the overall score, Peason EssayScorer can assign a 6-point score. 


Q: My student made a minor change and his/her score changed. Why?

A. EssayScorer computes a continuous score, such as 3.46, for each essay. That score is then transformed into a categorical score, such as 3, that is presented to the student. A minor change in an essay may move the continuous score just above or below the cut point for a given categorical score and so can result in a change in score.


Q: How is the Conventions score related to the spelling and grammar feedback?

A. The Conventions score is computed in the same way as the other trait scores and provides general feedback for students to be aware of as they write their essay. EssayScorer evaluates a student’s essay by comparing it to the training essays that were scored for Conventions by professional human scorers. The feedback is determined independently to give students feedback on general grammar errors in their writing. It is encouraged that students utilize common word processing software readily available to them to catch spelling and grammar errors before cutting and pasting into EssayScorer. 


Q: Why is EssayScorer not catching some of my students' grammar errors?

A. The grammar checker in EssayScorer tries to strike a balance between providing too much and too little feedback. Providing more feedback may result in incorrectly identified grammar errors. While adults are very good at taking feedback returned from programs such as Microsoft Word® and ignoring incorrect reports of grammar errors, students are still in the process of gathering the experience and knowledge to make such decisions. EssayScorer tries to catch as many grammar errors as possible while not confusing or misleading students and provides general recommendations and suggestions to students for improvement. 


Q: Why wasn't my student's essay scored?

A: Before scoring a response, EssayScorer first evaluates the accuracy with which it can do so. If EssayScorer is not confident that it can return an accurate score, it will instead return a message suggesting that the student review the essay with his or her teacher. This can happen for a variety of reasons. First, the essay may be too short to evaluate the skill level of the student (must be more than 50 words in order to be scored,  at least 100 words to receive more accurate scoring, and less than 1200 words in order to be scored.). Second, it may be much longer than expected for an essay. Third, it may not be as expected based on EssayScorer’s experience. EssayScorer is trained on hundreds of student essays written by students at the grade level specified for the given prompt. Based on these essays, EssayScorer has certain expectations about the content, style, and skill level of the writing. If a new essay does not meet these expectations, then EssayScorer will not be confident enough in its ability to score the essay accurately to return a score. The reasons for this include:

  • The essay may be off-topic or it may be highly creative.
  • The essay may not be a good faith essay. For example, it may be a refusal to write.
  • The essay may demonstrate a skill level that is very different from the expected skill level. For example, this can happen when a 6th grade student is asked to respond to a 12th grade prompt and vice versa.
  • The essay may be in all capital letters and thus not demonstrate appropriate formal writing style.
  • The essay may include too much repeated content, such as copying and pasting the same paragraph over and over.
  • The essay may not look like an essay. For example, it may be just a list of words or contain little to no punctuation.

Q: Can I create customized essay prompts and assign out to my students? 

A: Yes, this option is now available. Please see below for a quick tutorials on how to do this. 

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