Education Funding Report Roundup

Assessment Costs

By Sean Cavanagh — February 25, 2014 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A new analysis seeks to pinpoint how much can be saved by “machine scoring” test essay questions, and concludes that the costs can be as low as 20 percent of the price of human grading, depending on the volume of students being tested and other factors.

For years, simpler multiple-choice items have had an obvious allure: They’re typically easier and cheaper to score than essays.

But the new study, published by the Danville, Calif.-based Assessment Solutions Group, concludes that the costs of machine scoring of long-form essays could be as low as 20 percent to 50 percent of the costs of human scoring for tests involving large numbers of student responses. The savings tend to be lower, but still significant, where smaller groups of students are being tested.

To put that in dollar terms, in a state that is testing between 1.5 million and 3 million students, the costs of human scoring would range from $1.51 to $2.08 per student, or $3.4 million to $4.7 million in total. With machine scoring, costs range from 41 cents to 86 cents per student, or $922,000 to $1.9 million.

The study was supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which also underwrites news coverage in Education Week.

A version of this article appeared in the February 26, 2014 edition of Education Week as Assessment Costs


Special Education Webinar Reading, Dyslexia, and Equity: Best Practices for Addressing a Threefold Challenge
Learn about proven strategies for instruction and intervention that support students with dyslexia.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Personalized Learning Webinar
No Time to Waste: Individualized Instruction Will Drive Change
Targeted support and intervention can boost student achievement. Join us to explore tutoring’s role in accelerating the turnaround. 
Content provided by Varsity Tutors for Schools
Student Well-Being K-12 Essentials Forum Social-Emotional Learning: Making It Meaningful
Join us for this event with educators and experts on the damage the pandemic did to academic and social and emotional well-being.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Funding What the Research Says Districts Are Spending More Per Student. Here's How to Make Sure All of Them Benefit
New studies suggest ways education leaders can make budgets bigger and more equitable.
4 min read
Educators delivering money.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Education Funding How Districts Should Spend Federal School Safety Money
Districts should focus on the mental health needs of students, according to a Center for American Progress report.
3 min read
Image of money setting gears into play.
Laura Baker/Education Week and taweesak petphuang/iStock/Getty
Education Funding Schools Need Billions More to Make Up for Lost Learning Time, Researchers Argue
The projected price tag far exceeds ESSER aid already provided to help students recover from the pandemic.
5 min read
A man standing on the edge of a one dollar bill that is folded downward to look like a funding cliff.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Education Funding EPA Doubles Aid for Electric, Natural Gas-Powered School Buses, Citing High Demand
The $965 million in funding helps schools replace existing diesel buses with zero- and low-emissions alternatives.
2 min read
A row of flat-front yellow school buses with green bumpers are parked in front of white electric charging units.
Stockton Unified School District's new electric bus fleet sits parked in front of charging stations.
Business Wire via AP