Computers Driving Education in Marion

MARION, AR--In Marion, artificial intelligence is driving the intelligence of their students.

Thursday, teachers in the district trained on a program that is helping students score 31% higher on state assessment tests in reading and writing.

As the old saying goes practice makes perfect.

"In literacy it's a known fact the more you read the more you write, the better your skills are going to improve," said Marion Jr. High School Principal John Heath.

Heath feels students need to write more in school. However, that means teachers have to take the time to grade those papers and that is time that teachers like Glenn Hudspeth don't have.

"If you had to do it in a traditional manner, you would spend all of your time including your free time grading essays," said Hudspeth.

That's why Marion has turned over the job to artificial intelligence. Typically it takes teachers several days to check over essays. Now with a click of the mouse, students at Marion Junior High can have results on their essays in about three seconds.

"Learning to write is a complicated process. Using this website gives students an overview of the process," said Hudspeth.

The program called My Access by Vantage Learning trains the system to grade papers based by grade level with input from three to five hundred example papers. It also frees up time for teachers for more specialized learning.

"The analysis that you can pull up on the student's piece of writing will show you the areas they are deficient in, you can tailor your feedback and whatever interventions you need to make specifically to that student," said Hudspeth.

The teachers we talked to said students were truly excited to use the program. They feel that technology is the future for education and the IPod driven generation.

"We can tie into every facet of education on students if we just had more technology, but the cost is a factor. As a visionary in education, this is where we need to be going," said Heath.

The program costs around $30 per student a year. Principal Heath feels that is a small price for the results they have already seen.

"It allows me to do the job to the best of my ability," said Hudspeth.

Vantage Learning says the Blytheville School District will begin using the My Access program this year and that they are in talks with other districts around Region 8.