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Letter of Invitation

Welcome and thank you for your interest in the Classroom Trials.

The Classroom Trials are designed to test the capabilities of software designed to support the instruction of writing in a classroom setting. We are limiting the products for consideration to those that include a feature of automated feedback to teachers, students and others supporting the instruction of writing in a classroom setting. The Working Group responsible for designing the trials is addressing an important challenge in the American public education system. Two emerging trends face the classroom teacher:  1) students are increasingly composing in digital environments; and, 2) demands on teachers to deliver meaningful assessment and formative instruction are climbing.  If software can help enhance meaningful review of student work, then those resources should be examined for their capability to support writing instruction.

Technologies exist today that are designed to provide teachers with tools to review student writing at each phase of the drafting process, to provide critical and timely feedback to students, and to provide some of the information teachers need to strengthen instruction. However, many emergent technologies have not yet been examined in a fair, uniform and transparent way. So, the Classroom Trials are designed to demonstrate whether selected software systems are capable of:

  1. Increasing the quality and quantity of writing by students;
  2. Supporting teachers to meet identified performance goals for writing instruction;
  3. Matching the needs of students and teachers within a typical school environment.

You are invited to participate. As you enter this website, you will learn how to apply, who is responsible for selecting the participants and how. If you are selected, you will join between 3-5 other providers, and those vendors will have opportunities to inform the final study variables. Detailed study design considerations are available for your review.

After the selection process, the 3-5 products will be analyzed according to commonalities (e.g., output data). While assessment will take place to determine how the products are used, individual vendors will not be identified in the reports issued by the Working Group. In this way, capabilities can be examined in terms by features and use cases, wherever impact can be achieved for students, teachers, parents, and school administrators.

To apply, you must submit a product description and demonstration. You must show evidence of a sufficient track record of prior use and performance. We look forward to learning more about your company and your product. We have designed the application process to ensure an open, fair and transparent experience.  If you have any questions, you can contact us directly by email at:  [email protected]

Sincerely, 

The Classroom Trials Working Group

(Members and their credentials are provided on the website)

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APPLICATIONS CLOSED

Learn what was required to submit a product for consideration. The details of the application are here for you to review. We hope that you will continue to track this important program. LEARN MORE

AND THE SELECTIONS ARE...

Three products have been selected to participate in the Classroom Trials. They are ETS Criterion, Measurement, Incorporated's PEGWrite, and Pearson's WriteToLearn. Our judges completed an extensive review process and were impressed by the features of the writing software that was submitted for consideration. Thank you for your participation.

If you submitted an application, you can log in using your registered user name and password to receive your individual scores and comments from each member of the working group. We hope that this process has proven valuable; we welcome any questions (Lynn@thecommonpool.com).

ABOUT THE STUDY

The Classroom Trials are a series of demonstrations to test the current capabilities of software, designed to support the instruction of writing in a classroom setting. Those members of the Working Group (named below) have designed this study to invite providers of such software to enter an open, fair and transparent investigation into those capabilities. The Study Design Considerations are provided here for your review. Please read them carefully before applying to participate.

STUDY DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS

 

THE REVIEW PROCESS

Eight judges will review each completed application. They will score each completed application against three criteria. Each applicant will receive both their scores and substantive feedback from each Judge. Between 3-5 applicants will be selected to participate in the Classroom Trials.

Meet the Working Group Members
(click on each member to learn more) HOW YOU WILL BE SCORED
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Jaison Morgan

CEO, The Common Pool
Jaison Morgan

BIO:

Jaison Morgan is the Managing Principal of The Common Pool and Co-Founder of RAMPIT Software. He’s been recognized by the BBC as “the world’s leading expert” in designing trials to compare innovative technologies. He was the head of prize development for the X PRIZE Foundation, where designed a series of cash rewards intended to demonstrate the current capabilities of competing product providers. He has served as an Advisor to the White House, Office of Science and Technology Policy, the First Minister of Scotland and the government of Abu Dhabi, in their efforts to utilize competitive trials to drive innovation. He helped establish a lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study the use of incentives in product development. Mr. Morgan completed his graduate studies at the University of Chicago and is a frequent lecturer on the subject of Incentive Engineering (http://youtu.be/NyOaoIcCeMY).

In 2011, Mr. Morgan worked with the Hewlett Foundation to establish the Automated Student Assessment Prize (ASAP). The competition tested whether computers can grade student written content as well as trained human experts. The first trial focused on essays; by offering state-derived data (i.e., graded responses) to a pool of 30,000 predictive modeling experts, over four months a series of breakthrough developments occurred. Measurable demonstrations of machine scoring proved concordant to hand grading. Today, ASAP continues to work with partners to understand how the technology can lower costs to measure deeper learning.

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Norbert Elliot

Professor of English, Department of Humanities, New Jersey Institute of Technology
Norbert Elliot

BIO:

Norbert Elliot is professor of English at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). Dr. Elliot received both his BA and MA from the University of New Orleans and his Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee. He has taught at Mercer County Community College, Rider University, the College of New Jersey, and Texas A & M University at Commerce. He was the recipient of the NJIT 2006 Master Teacher Award. In 2007, On a Scale: A Social History of Writing Assessment in America won the Outstanding Book Award from the Conference on College Composition and Communication. In the classroom, Dr. Elliot engages students in active problem-solving. He delivers lectures through podcasts and incorporates technology into assignments as students write blogs and develop collaborative wikis that are, in turn, collected in EPortfolios. Dr. Elliot is recognized nationally as an expert in writing assessments. With David M. Williamson, he is most recently co-editor of a special issue of Assessing Writing on automated assessment of writing (volume 18, no. 1, 2013).

Dr. Elliot is a non-judging member of the Working Group.

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Linda Friedrich

Director of Research and Evaluation, National Writing Project
Linda Friedrich

BIO:

Linda D. Friedrich, Ph.D., serves as the Director of Research and Evaluation at the National Writing Project, where she has worked since 2002. She leads NWP's research and evaluation efforts; oversees the use and ongoing development of its writing assessment system; and, as a member of NWP's management team, supports the organization in strategically using research results and tools. Her research interests include teacher leadership and professional development, writing assessment, teacher research, and the diffusion of knowledge and practice. With Ann Lieberman, Senior Scholar, Stanford University, she wrote How Teachers Become Leaders: Learning from Practice and Research (Teachers College Press, August 2010). Prior to joining the National Writing Project, she served as Director of Research at the Coalition of Essential Schools. She earned her Ph.D. in Administration and Policy Analysis at Stanford University's School of Education and her A.B. at Bryn Mawr College, where she majored in history. Before becoming a researcher, Linda facilitated professional development and middle school reform programs at the Philadelphia Education Fund.

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Darion Griffin

Senior Associate Director, Educational Issues Department, American Federation of Teachers
Darion Griffin

BIO:

Darion Griffin is the Senior Associate Director in the Educational Issues Department of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). She leads the AFT's work on literacy by analyzing public policy, implementing AFT policy, providing technical assistance to leaders and affiliates, working with educational organizations and others to advocate for and advance AFT positions, and developing and implementing professional development. She is responsible for leading the AFT's advocacy and support of the ELA/Literacy Common Core State Standards and their implementation in the field. Since joining the AFT national staff in 1995, she has served as the AFT/OERI National Reading Project Director, responsible for implementing a multi-year, multi-million dollar project to improve students' reading achievement in 3 urban districts through the delivery of high quality professional development in reading to teachers. Mrs. Griffin also has led AFT's efforts to redesign low-performing schools in several districts and has assisted affiliates with strategic education reform. She has conducted research on issues related to reading, professional development, and education reform; and she has worked to advance early childhood education. Prior to coming to the AFT, Mrs. Griffin served in several senior administrative and cabinet-level positions in student services and admissions at institutions of higher education in Washington, DC. Mrs. Griffin began her career as an elementary school teacher. Mrs. Griffin earned a baccalaureate degree in Sociology from Mount Holyoke College, a master's degree in Education Administration from The American University; and completed an Executive Education program at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. She also has completed all course work and comprehensive examinations in a doctoral program in Education Administration.
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Michael Kaspar

Senior Program/Policy Analyst, STEM/P21, National Education Association
Michael Kaspar

BIO:

Dr. Michael Kaspar is a Senior Policy Analyst at the National Education Association in Washington, DC. His desk covers STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and Digital Learning. He has taught at all levels - university, community college, elementary and secondary school and he has also led professional development programs for teachers and other staff. Dr. Kaspar is a skilled grant writer, fund-raiser, and events organizer who has led numerous successful efforts to promote education and community involvement in student learning. His experience includes both large and small urban school systems, for-profit agencies and not-for-profit agency management.

Recent positions include Director of Science for District of Columbia Public Schools, Fisheries and Wildlife Biologist with the DC Department, and Training Coordinator for the North American Association for Environmental Education, in Washington, DC. He is the founding President of the DC Science Teachers Association and serves on the board of directors of environmental and educational non-profits.

He has written numerous abstracts, journal and newsletter articles, curricula and resource guides, and belongs to several professional associations, (e.g., National Science Teachers Association, the Council for State Science Supervisors, American Association for the Advancement of Science, ASCD and the North American Association for Environmental Education).

He holds a PhD in Science Education from the University of Texas at Austin, a MS from Texas A&M University at College Station in Horticulture and a BA in Botany/Biology, also from UT, Austin. He has lived in Washington, DC for 17 years.

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Mark Shermis

Professor, College of Education, The University of Akron
Mark Shermis

BIO:

Dr. Mark D. Shermis is the principal investigator and academic advisor for the Automated Student Assessment Prize (ASAP). Dr. Shermis is a frequently cited expert on machine scoring and co-author of Classroom Assessment in Action. He is presently a professor in the Department of Educational Foundations and Leadership and the Department of Psychology at The University of Akron, where he previously served as Dean of the College of Education. Dr. Shermis has also held faculty positions at the University of Florida, Florida International, IUPUI and the University of Texas. Shermis earned a B.A. in developmental psychology at the University of Kansas and Doctorate and Master's degrees in educational psychology at the University of Michigan. His latest book (Jill Burstein, co-editor), Handbook of Automated Essay Evaluation: Current Applications and New Directions, will be published by Routledge in April, 2013.

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Lynn Van Deventer

Director of Project Management,
The Common Pool
Lynn Van Deventer

BIO:

Lynn Van Deventer is the Director of Project Management for The Common Pool. Previously, Lynn led education reform and community engagement projects for Seattle Public Schools. Prior to her work in education, Lynn spent twenty years as a program manager and senior manager in the software and data management industry. She's delivered multi-million dollar projects on time and within budget within both the private and public sectors. Most recently she has led project management services for multiple prizes which have required coordination services for a standing Board of Advisors, representing such interests as The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Google, the U.S. Department of Education, the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation and twelve other organizations. Lynn has worked as a professional writer and editor and has spent hundreds of hours in the classroom tutoring struggling writers. She also writes fiction for young adults. Lynn earned a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Iowa and a Certificate in Technical Writing and Editing and a Certificate in Children's Writing from the University of Washington.

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Tom Vander Ark

CEO, GettingSmart.com
Tom Vander Ark

BIO:

Tom is founder of GettingSmart.com and author of Getting Smart: How Digital Learning is Changing the World. Previously he served as President of the X PRIZE Foundation and was the Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation where he implemented $3.5 billion in scholarship and grant programs. Tom was the first business executive to serve as public school superintendent in Washington State. A prolific writer and speaker, Tom has published thousands of articles and blogs. In December 2006, Newsweek readers voted Tom the most influential baby boomer in education. Tom is a director of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) and several other nonprofits. Tom is a partner in Learn Capital, a venture capital firm investing in learning content, platforms, and services with the goal of transforming educational engagement, access, and effectiveness. He received the Distinguished Achievement Medal and graduated from the Colorado School of Mines. He received his M.B.A. in finance from the University of Denver. He continues his education online.
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Carl Whithaus

Director and Professor, University Writing Program, University of California, Davis
Carl Whithaus

BIO:

Carl Whithaus is a Professor of Writing and Rhetoric and Director of the University Writing Program (UWP) at the University of California, Davis. His research areas include writing in the disciplines and professions (particularly in the sciences and engineering), writing assessment, and the impact of information technologies on literacy practices. His books include Multimodal Literacies and Emerging Genres (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013), Writing Across Distances and Disciplines: Research and Pedagogy in Distributed Learning (Erlbaum/Routledge, 2008) and Teaching and Evaluating Writing in the Age of Computers and High-Stakes Testing (Erlbaum, 2005). Mr. Whithaus has served on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Planning Committee for 2011-2019 Writing Standards Framework, the editorial board for Kairos, and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Best Practices for Online Writing Instruction (OWI) Committee (2007-10). He has taught courses ranging from first-year writing to graduate-level classes in traditional, hybrid, and distance learning environments. His articles have appeared in Technical Communication Quarterly, Kairos, Assessing Writing, and The Journal of Basic Writing.