Detroit PS Expands Use of Online Writing Tool

Detroit Public Schools (DPS) will increase its use of the online writing program My Access! from Vantage Learning. Citing positive feedback from students already using the software and from teachers who say they have seen noticeable improvements in their students' writing skills, DPS will increase from 300 to 500 the number students using the program at the district's Cass Technical High School.

Cass 10th-grade English teacher Audrey Gates said that, in her experience, student essay submissions have invariably been followed by chants of "Did you check my essay?" "But when you have 175 essays in front of you" she explained, "you can't get through them as efficiently as you'd like. MY Access! allows you to push a button and get instant feedback. It's incredibly motivating for them."

The software analyzes more than 350 characteristics of an essay, categorized under semantics, syntax, clarity of discourse, and style, and instantly scores and provides feedback on the work, potentially allowing users to improve focus, organization, content and development, use of language, and overall writing proficiency.

DPS said it was able to fund the increase through district fundraising efforts and external grants.

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Scott Aronowitz is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas. He has covered the technology, advertising, and entertainment sectors for seven years. He can be reached here.

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