According to a story in today's Guardian, Edexcel has plans to use computers to mark one of its English language exams, the Pearson Test of English Academic. Edexcel claims that using computers will not only be more efficient than employing humans, but will also help ensure consistency of marking practice, since computers don't get tired or suffer from subjective bias.
I dare say, as usual, there is more to this story than the journalists have seen fit to tell us, but it's hard not to see this as part of a worrying trend. Edexcel insist that there are no plans to use computers to mark either GCSE or A level English exams, but do we believe them? 'No plans to use' is such a handy phrase.