Teachers spend hours upon hours on nights and weekends grading papers. A new startup called the Graide Network aims to lighten the load. (The name comes from a combination of “grade” plus “aide.”)
The Graide connects teachers with trained assistants who evaluate student papers and return them to teachers in a matter of a few days. Getting feedback to students more quickly allows teachers to assign even more writing, so that students can better hone their craft. What’s more, the “graiders” say they can provide more in-depth feedback on student writing than time-pressed teachers.
The Graide Network’s founder, Blair Pircon, got the idea after talking to a burned-out teacher who ended up quitting his job. “He was working from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day, and still felt there was a never-ending list of stuff to do,” Pircon told Education Week. “We know how important it is that kids get feedback on their work, yet that was the ball that kept dropping. Teachers are unfortunately responsible for doing a million different jobs in one.”
Pircon developed the idea for the Graide Network while she was earning her MBA at Northwestern University. Here’s how it works. The teacher posts the writing assignment, grading rubric, and any other instructions the student received. The teacher is matched with a graider, an education student trained in responding to student writing. The teacher uploads student work. The graider scores the work using the rubric and writes up to three comments noting strengths, and up to three on how the writing could be improved.
The teacher reviews the grades and comments before handing the work back to students, and can also rate the graider.
Last year, the Graide Network provided feedback on about 4,000 essays. So far this year, assistants have graded about 40,000. The majority of the Graide’s clients are language arts and social studies instructors, but the service also evaluates writing in subjects like computer science. “Students write about why a particular code structure is more relevant than another or how they would go about solving a particular problem,” Pircon explained.
The cost is $16 an hour, increasing to $18 an hour starting in July. The Graide employs “several hundred” graiders, according to Pircon, who are paid at the rate of an equivalent on-campus job.
Based on surveys, the Graide Network reports that teachers using the service spent 88 percent less time on grading, allowing them to provide one-on-one help for struggling students. The students appreciated it, too. One teacher reported that “getting the comments was like Christmas for my students.”
Read about two Michigan teachers’ experiences with outsourced grading in this Teaching Now blog post. What do you think? Is it a good idea for teachers to rely on assistants to grade their students’ writing? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.