The app evaluates writing samples for clarity and readability and checks for problems including overly-complex phrasing, long sentences, passive voice, and more.
Next, the app assigns two readability scores for each document.
The first score measures the content’s grade level using a readability algorithm, which determines the lowest education level needed to understand the writing.
The StudySoup team’s evaluation found that student-submitted content scored an average of 12.35, or a 12th-grade level. But other schools fell well below that average, and some fell as low as 6.63–a middle-school level.
The second score is a rating scale based on “good,” “OK,” or “poor,” and it judges how clearly a document is written by pointing out sentences that are difficult to read.
Of the 20 schools from which writing samples were analyzed, 12 received a majority score of “poor.”
An increase in “informal” writing, such as that found on social media platforms, could contribute to students’ weak writing skills. Varying school district funding for writing programs could play a role as well, leaving students in poorly-funded districts with ineffective writing skills when they enter college.
According to the blog post, 71.5 percent of employers say written communication skills are very important–but 27.8 percent of employers report new job entrants with four-year degrees are deficient in the necessary written communication skills needed for the workplace.