Digital tools analyze a fifth grader's essay

By: | May 23, 2015

A living, breathing teacher is the best tool to assess a written essay.

However, DA found a few tools that can do almost the same job, pointing out narrative, organization and purpose of an essay. We used an authentic essay that a fifth-grade girl in Connecticut wrote about her very big mastiff dog named Bam Bam.

And two tools, PEG Writing and ETS’ E-Rater, were able to assess the same essay separately.

Here is the original essay:

BamBam by Tess A.

Once upon a time their was a little dog. His name was BamBam.

He was very mischievous. He loved everyone. He has the biggest heart any animal ever had he was an American Mastiff.

He loved the snow. What he loved the best was getting the tip of his little black nose covered with snow. Bam Bam’s owners were a family.

There were two children and two parents (they got divorced so one parent). Their names were Tess, who a was 10, she was the oldest. Then there was Tyson, he was the youngest of 8 years old. Tara was the mother.

One day the family took a trip with Tara’s friend Fred. They went to Fred’s sister’s ski loft and they brought BamBam. BamBam went outside with the kids then all of a sudden a dog runs into Tess’s legs all covered in snow.

Then a whole litter of puppies run into Tess’s legs and again all covered in snow. Then Tess and Tyson say two more kids their names were Eve and Adam they were the same ages as Tess and Tyson. The kids and puppies played in the snow.

Then all of a sudden, the puppies were being a little mean to BamBam. They were calling him big meanie because BamBam was really big for a 1 year old.

But one of the puppies was nice enough to stand up for BamBam. Betsy said “stop it guys you’re the ones being meanies”. BamBam thanked her and they played a little more in the snow. The other puppies kept being mean to BamBam and Betsy. So Betsy and BamBam pranked the other puppies.

They decided to cover themselves in snow to look like a huge snowman. They rolled over to the other puppies and told them If they didn’t play nice and be kind to all the other puppies, then they would be rolled into snowballs and sent to the South Pole.

The sight of a huge snowman talking was enough to scare the collars off the puppies and they promised to be kind to all.

PEG Writing’s analysis.

ETS E-Rater’s assessment.

Breakdown of ETS analysis.