When students’ essays came back with comments in oddly phrased English, parents at K12-managed charter schools wondered. Now, under fire from a retired English teacher and blogger, K12 Inc. has stopped outsourcing essay review to India.
“David A. Safier, a retired English teacher in Tucson, Ariz., criticized the use of India-based reviewers on the Blog for Arizona,” reports Education Week.
Writing about the Arizona Virtual Academy, a state-funded public charter school that uses K12â€™s management and curriculum services, Mr. Safier said the essay-review program raised concerns about educational quality, the use of taxpayer money, and even student safety and privacy. He claims that the Arizona Virtual Academyâ€™s parents may not have been fully informed or consulted about the program.
According to Jeffrey Kwitowski, a K12 spokesman, students handed in first drafts of essays to their teachers, who “reviewed the essays and decided whether to give students their own initial feedback or to use the (online) essay service.”
A teacher using the service would remove sensitive personal information, then using a separate server, would â€œsend it to a reviewer who would provide initial feedback, which [the teacher] would receive and use at their discretion, or discard,â€ Mr. Kwitowski said.
. . . The essay-review program aimed to save teachers time so they could offer students other activities, such as online writing workshops, and reduce the delay between studentsâ€™ submissions of essay drafts and their receipt of feedback, Mr. Kwitowski said.
The program did not save K12 money, Kwitowski said.
I don’t see the problem with using online tutors to give students feedback on their essay drafts, though it does seem odd to hire people who aren’t native speakers of English. Nor do I see a problem if an essay reviewer in India knows that some kid named “Jason” in Arizona wrote the essay. They’re not sending nude photos and a MySpace address, I assume.