Writing Platforms With Scoring Engine

Most of the following 10 web applications score essays and provide trait feedback and targeted instruction for students grade four and up. They typically include hundreds of scored prompts (narrative, expository, descriptive, and persuasive), some with reading passages. Most vendors are improving Common Core alignment and adding more complex text and improved instructional feedback.

  • Criterion Online Writing Evaluation service from ETS is a web-based instructional tool that teachers use with students to help them plan, write and revise essays guided by instant annotated diagnostic feedback and a holistic score. Riverside Publishing, a division of HMH, distributes Criterion.
  • Essay Punch from Merit Software contains nine writing topics and 1,080 help prompts to guide students through each step in the writing process with contextual help and feedback. Designed for students in grades seven to adult.
  • The Lexile® Framework for Writing is an innovative tool for differentiating writing instruction and monitoring growth in writing ability. It expresses student writing ability on the same Lexile scale as reading ability, providing an easy-to-understand language for expressing student writing growth and reinforcing the importance of reading in the development of writing skills.
  • MyAccess! from Vantage Learning has 1,300 writing topics in math, science, language arts, and social studies with a fun, interactive (middle school targeted) interface that transforms writing instruction and assessment by providing immediate feedback. Vantage powers the spell and grammar check in Microsoft Word.
  • Project Essay Grade (PEG) from Measurement Incorporated has provided over two million scores to students over the past five years. PEG powers NC Write, an online practice tool for North Carolina schools. More than 1,000 schools are using it as a formative writing assessment.
  • SAGrader improves student learning by providing immediate feedback on their content area writing. Perfect for knowledge-based writing in high school and college courses like biology, psychology, and history.
  • WriteToLearn from Pearson provides flexible, easy-to-use, effective writing assessment and instruction with added content and tools for English Language Learners. WriteToLearn is used statewide in South Dakota. MyWritingLab is a post-secondary platform powered by the same scoring engine.
  • Writing Power  is Pacific Metrics' new essay-scoring tool that helps teachers and students meet Common Core writing requirements and supports increased student writing with instant feedback using automated scoring. 

Scoring Engines

  • CRASE from Pacific Metrics, provides immediate, accurate, and low-cost scoring of short-answer and essay items with six trait feedback.
  • Turnitin - This scoring engine (formerly LightSIDE) analyzes writing prompts and provides instant assessments.
  • The five winning teams in the second phase of the Hewlett Foundation funded Automated Student Assessment Prize made their scoring engines available as open resources (send Tom VankerArk a note if you want to learn more, Tom@GettingSmart.com).

Writing Aids

  • Writing Reviser from SAS helps students ask questions experienced writers ask automatically - from big picture issues to smaller details to enhance writing skills.
  • OdysseyWriter by CompassLearning is a customizable writing program for elementary and middle school students is called Odyssey Writer. Odyssey Writer can guide students through the entire writing process and make writing more focused, more effective, and even more enjoyable. While some users think of Odyssey Writer as a word processor, this is only a portion of its use.
  • noredink a fun way to practice and master grammar on content of interest. An adaptive engine shows tutorials that help students correct mistakes.
  • Studysync uses video of student discourse to model careful reading, critical thinking, use of evidence--great examples of Common Core literacy.
  • StoryBird, a collaborative illustrated storytelling app for families

iPad Writing Apps

  • With thanks to by Lore Sjöberg on Wired, here are three iPad apps:
  • WriteRoom is a full screen alternative to Word; its great for getting words on the page, but don't try to add charts and graphs.
  • Draftpad does away with documents and files; everything is saved until you erase it.  It has recently been replaced with Textwell.
  • Evernote makes it easy for students to take note on any device - laptops, tablets, smartphones. What's more, students can capture audio and photos. Photos of notes or written text can even be searchable within Evernote.
  • Dragon Dictation records any dictated thoughts or information. It's a great way to take notes on the go, said blogger John Hardison.

Christine Chan likes minimalist writing apps and reviews:

  • Byword ($2.99) has lots of features but no full screen mode.
  • iA Writer ($0.99) is a bare-bones writing app.
  • Elements ($4.99) is one of the most feature-packed apps available, but no iCloud synch.
  • Writing Kit ($4.99) one of the most robust writing apps available, especially for those that do a lot of research-based writing, but no iCloud synch.
  • Simplenote (free with ads) is simplest of the all but doesn't use Dropbox or iCloud.


Nine reviewed apps from Reading Rockets include:

  • ABC Cursive for grades 3-5 helps students learn cursive.
  • iCanWrite ($0.99) teaches letters for grade K-1.
  • iWriteWords ($2.99) teaches handwriting for grades K-1.
  • Kids Writing Pad ($2.99) is a lined pad for handwriting for grades K-3.
  • Popplet ($4.99) is a story planning and mind-mapping app for grades 3-12.
  • Sentence Builder ($5.99) helps students grade K-5 build grammatically correct sentences.
  • Story Builder ($7.99) teaches students grade 1-5 to build stories by answering questions.
  • TeachMe: 1st Grade ($0.99) teaches writing by asking questions; a writing recognition engine checks answers.
  • Toontastic helps students grades K-5 animate their own stories.

 This page was updated March 6, 2017.