I’ve known Les Perelman since we were students together at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles.
Since then Les has been a leader in the field of inter-disciplinary writing, based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he was a teacher for many years. But the issue most close to his heart and head these recent years has been the dangers of computer scoring and automated marking of student writing for the purpose of evaluation.
I posted his Babel Generator several years ago on this blog.
My friend Les Perelman and some grad students came up with software that generates gibberish. They named the program BABEL, the Basic Automated BS Essay Language Generator.
Why would MIT grad students want to generate gibberish?
To demonstrate the problem with computer-based scoring of test essays.
Les submitted the results to AES, Automatic Scoring Engines.
“It works spectacularly well in producing nonsense that received high scores from various AES machines,” wrote Les.
Based on his reputation, Les was commissioned by the NSW Teachers Federation in Australia to review a report by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) into automated NAPLAN marking of persuasive writing tests.
A leading US education academic has warned that it would be “extremely foolish” and even damaging to student learning if NAPLAN writing tests were marked by computers next year, as education ministers across Australia back a move to online marking.
Les Perelman, an internationally renowned expert in writing assessment from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said a report on automated marking of NAPLAN was “so methodologically flawed and so massively incomplete” that it could not be used to justify any use of automated essay scoring of NAPLAN.
Apparently babel is babel no matter if it is scored in Australia or the United States