GRADING CURVE: What is actually being "automated" when automated essay scoring (AES) programs go to work? Vik Paruchuri, a participant in the Kaggle/Hewlett essay grading competitions, takes us on a journey to demystify our wild fantasies about robo-graders. Beginning with a brief history of similar projects (fun fact: BETSY's one of them), he serves up helpful diagrams and analogies to clarify the logic and application behind how AES systems attempt to mimic how human graders score essays. Paruchuri writes: "AES is useless when the power is in the hands of researchers and programmers (although it does make us feel important). The real people who need to shape and implement these technologies are teachers and students, and they need the power to define how the AES looks and works."