Educational Testing Service

March 28, 2011 09:51 ET

2010 Patents Demonstrate ETS Intellectual Leadership

Nonprofit Receives 12 U.S. Patents for Original Contributions to the Field of Educational Measurement

PRINCETON, NJ--(Marketwire - March 28, 2011) - Educational Testing Service (ETS) furthered its continuing mission of expanding educational opportunities and driving innovation in assessment in the final months of 2010, when the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted five more patents to nonprofit ETS, bringing to 12 the number of patents ETS received last year.

"Through patents, ETS inventors document their intellectual contributions to the scientific community while greatly enhancing the process of knowledge sharing in their respective fields," says Ida Lawrence, Senior Vice President of Research & Development (R&D). "Furthermore, patents provide ETS with a mechanism for us to use these advances to produce better quality assessments and services."

The final five patents ETS received in 2010, as documented in Patent and Trademark Office records, are:

  • Automatic Essay Scoring System -- This is a patent for systems and methods for grading essays. A set of predetermined features are derived from an essay, and the feature set is evaluated with a scoring equation to generate a raw score. The raw score is processed using an adaptive cutoff algorithm to assign the raw score to a score category.
  • Method and System for Using Automatic Generation of Speech Features to Provide Diagnostic Feedback -- This patent discloses a method of using automated speech analysis to provide feedback on an evaluation speech sample. A scoring model is generated based on a plurality of training speech features determined for a training speech sample, and a plurality of evaluation speech features are determined for an evaluation speech sample. Diagnostic feedback is provided to the speaker based upon the scoring model and the evaluation speech features.
  • Method and System for Designing Adaptive, Diagnostic Assessments -- This patent discloses a method of administering an assessment to a student. An expected weight of evidence is calculated for a task based on a student model pertaining to a particular student which includes variables corresponding to a proficiency of the student and is based on student specific information collected prior to the assessment. A task is selected to be administered to the student based on the calculated expected weights of evidence, and the student model pertaining to the student is updated based on evidence of the selected task. If additional information is required to assess the student, the above steps are repeated; and if not, a proficiency status is assigned to the student based on the student model.
  • Automated Annotation -- This patent is for systems and methods of annotating an essay. A feature associated with a sentence is identified, and a probability of that sentence being a discourse element is determined by mapping the feature to a model. The essay is annotated based on the determined probability.
  • System and Method for Computer Based Creation of Tests Formatted to Facilitate Computer Based Testing -- This patent is for systems and methods for generating a test item in an electronic form that include steps of electronically associating components of a test item into an XML language based item form, accessing the electronic form to review the test item, routing the test item to content, fairness, and format reviewers, and storing the test item as a locked item in an item repository.

"Patents are a testament to the intellectual leadership of ETS and are a key part of ETS sustainability through development and deployment of next generation capabilities into ETS and client products," says David Williamson, senior research director and head of the Applied Research and Development area of ETS's Research & Development division, where much of the work behind the 12 patents took place. "Patenting our innovations allows ETS to be transparent about our methodologies so that users can have greater confidence in the quality of our products. This differentiates ETS within the industry and stimulates further research in the field based on what we have learned."

The seven previous patents awarded to ETS in 2010 are: Method and System for Detecting Off-topic Essays without Topic Specific Training; Method and System for Determining Text; Method for Automated Essay Analysis; Lexical Association Metric for Knowledge-free Extraction of Phrasal Terms; Method and System for Automated Item Development for Language Learners; Automated Essay Scoring; and Method and System for Assessing Pronunciation Difficulties of Nonnative Speakers.

Upon being granted a patent, an individual or organization controls the making, use and selling of an invention for 20 years from the time the application is submitted. The patent protects the rights of the patent holder in exchange for releasing information about the invention to the public.

About ETS
At nonprofit ETS, we advance quality and equity in education for people worldwide by creating assessments based on rigorous research. ETS serves individuals, educational institutions and government agencies by providing customized solutions for teacher certification, English language learning, and elementary, secondary and post-secondary education, as well as conducting education research, analysis and policy studies. Founded in 1947, ETS develops, administers and scores more than 50 million tests annually -- including the TOEFL® and TOEIC® tests, the GRE® tests and The Praxis Series™ assessments -- in more than 180 countries, at over 9,000 locations worldwide.

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