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Communications of the ACM


Let the Algorithm Decide?

rally attendees holding signs about algorithms

Credit: Dominika Zarzycka / Nurphoto via Getty Images

Students generally regard exams with trepidation for good reason: a bad day can easily trip them up, leaving their grades wanting. Concern over the accuracy of high-stakes exams and standardized tests have led the U.S. and other countries to look at alternatives that are less vulnerable to a poor performance on a single day and which, in principle, offer more accurate ways of determining a student's ability in a particular subject.

In 2019, a team based at King's College London in the U.K. used a long-term study of twins to determine how well teachers' assessments fare against exams in predicting overall performance once compulsory education has finished. They found teachers' assessments are as reliable as test scores at every stage, and recommended this approach to grading could replace some, if not all, high-stakes exams.


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