During which season of the year would a rabbit's fur be thickest? A computer program called Aristo can tell you because it read about bears growing thicker pelts during winter in a fourth-grade study guide, and it knows rabbits are mammals, too. It's studying for New York State's standard science exams.
Given the well-known limitations of the Turing Test, there is a need for objective tests to both focus attention on, and measure progress towards, the goals of AI. In this paper we argue that machine performance on standardized tests should be a key component of any new measure of AI, because attaining a high level of performance requires solving significant AI problems involving language understanding and world modeling - critical skills for any machine that lays claim to intelligence. In addition, standardized tests have all the basic requirements of a practical test: they are accessible, easily comprehensible, clearly measurable, and offer a graduated progression from simple tasks to those requiring deep understanding of the world.
In this article, we describe a deployed educational technology application: the Criterion Online Essay Evaluation Service, a web-based system that provides automated scoring and evaluation of student essays. Criterion has two complementary applications: (1) CritiqueWriting Analysis Tools, a suite of programs that detect errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics, that identify discourse elements in the essay, and that recognize potentially undesirable elements of style, and (2) e-rater version 2.0, an automated essay scoring system. Critique and e-rater provide students with feedback that is specific to their writing in order to help them improve their writing skills and is intended to be used under the instruction of a classroom teacher. All of these capabilities outperform baseline algorithms, and some of the tools agree with human judges in their evaluations as often as two judges agree with each other.