Brophy College Preparatory Success Story

Fast Feedback for Stronger Writers + Unabridged Student Survey Results

Fast Facts

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Photo credit: Wikipedia

  • Location. Private Catholic, Jesuit school grades 6-12 in Phoenix, AZ, with a Loyola Academy middle school program for low-income scholars.
  • Population.  1,404 all male students, 78 of whom are in Loyola Academy.
  • Technology. Google Drive provided safe and convenient file sharing for the student work and rubrics. The school is 1:1 iPads.
  • Scope. Graiders provided formative feedback on the Sophomore Research Project and AP English practice essays.

The Goal

John Damaso teaches Honors English II and AP English Language at a high-performing college prep school. He is the kind of teacher who constantly innovates to take both his practice and his students to the next level.

One critical ingredient in achieving ongoing growth for his students is effective, timely feedback - a strategy Mr. Damaso already heavily incorporates into his teaching practice. But there are limits to the amount and objectivity of the feedback he can provide on his own. Each year, Mr. Damaso keeps pace with thousands of essays, plans lessons, teaches class, conferences with students on-on-one, and orchestrates students’ use of other online editing tools and peer review networks - not to mention he chairs the English department.

To boost the amount of feedback for his students - with the added bonus of both timeliness and blind objectivity - we paired Mr. Damaso with a small group of Graiders to read and comment on 70 ten-page essay drafts and 108 in-class, timed AP practice essays. The goal of the partnership was to deliver robust, high-quality feedback with a rapid turnaround time so that students would have the opportunity to reflect on the feedback and, in the case of the Sophomore Research Project, thoughtfully revise their work.

The Results

Detailed, timely revision boosted confidence, motivation, and introspection

In total for both classes, 124 students received 1,068 pieces of individualized feedback on their writing. Mr. Damaso commented that Graiders were “able to direct students to rubric areas and focus their revision” and were “super supportive of my students,” using “productive and affirming language” and able to “both praise and polish student work.”

Sample Feedback Reports Given to Students by Graiders

Student Feedback Report Sample #1

Student Feedback Report Sample #2

Student Feedback Report Sample #2

Mr. Damaso described the key benefits of the program as follows:

  • Fresh perspective. “Students see value in a new layer of feedback (from someone other than parents, each other, and me).”
  • Timely feedback. “I’m coming to realize as weeks go by, students forget everything. If the turnaround time can be 2-3 or even 4 days, that’s a major success.” 
  • Accurate. “I particularly liked that the Graiders’ work was aligned to the College Board rubric.” 
  • Turning feedback into action. “By providing feedback just two days before the final due date, Graiders sparked a frenzy of action for students making their final revisions.”


John Damaso’s Reviews of the Graiders

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Unabridged Student Survey Results

Now the good stuff - what the students had to say. Mr. Damaso surveyed his 70 sophomore Honors English II students about their experience receiving feedback on their drafts of the Sophomore Research Project. 61 students responded, and their responses are published in full - the good, the bad, and the hypercritical - below:

“On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend having a Graider to other students?”

66% of student responded with scores of 10 - 8, 31% responded with a 7 - 4, and only 3% (2 students) responded with a 3 - 0.

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“Would you want to continue receiving feedback from a Graider in your future courses?”

The vast majority (61%) gave an emphatic “Absolutely!”, and another 34% responded “Maybe.”

Students were then asked to what extent they agreed or disagreed with the prompts:

  • I tried harder on the assignment, knowing a Graider would be reading it
  • I became more interested in reading the feedback on my assignments

  • I better understood my strengths and areas for growth

  • Motivated me to revise my writing

  • Helped me improve for future assignments

  • Improved my conversations with my teacher about my performance

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The most common statement students agreed with was that the feedback “motivated me to revise my writing”, with 36% responding “Quite a bit” and 38% responding “A great deal”. A close second was the statement “I better understood my strengths and areas for growth” and “I became more interested in reading the feedback on my assignments”.  

The feedback not only directed the students towards tangible points of improvement, it added motivation to tackle the final paper and gave students the opportunity to reflect as writers. More than just a quick boost for the final paper, the Graider feedback helped students better understand their own strengths and areas for growth.

“The individual letters of feedback lead to silence in the room while students entered into a moment of introspection while reading the specific and actionable feedback from the Graider.”
— John Damaso

Students were then asked to explain why they gave the scores above. Here is what they had to say:

It is always helpful to receive input on my writing
Having criticism and comments on my work filled me with confidence. It was like a pick me up and helped me improve my work even further beyond.
If [the Graider] was given more time per essay, I think I would have gotten much more out of it.
Regan gave good feedback, which helped me when editing my essay to turn it in.

[My Graider] pointed out what I lacked and I went back and fixed it but she missed the parts of my essay that had what she said I lacked,

I liked the feedback, it is always helpful to get another look. Regan did a nice job.

Having someone I didn't know read my paper motivated me to try and impress them. This was almost more of a subconscious experience.
It was awesome to have feedback especially from someone who is not a part of the Brophy community.
Although it did make me more excited for feedback, I felt as if the feedback was not overly helpful. I understand that reader had very little time to grade, so I believe that although their positive remarks were encouraging, they were not very helpful.
I was able to identify where my strengths and weaknesses were in my paper from the constructive criticism.
The Graider highlighted certain areas and marked them for improvement, and I was happy to rewrite them, however, it was often difficult for me to understand what was wrong initially, or what the intent of the correction was.
I believe the reason for my reviews is solely on time and the focusing on one particular flaw that my paper had.
While the Graider was a little helpful, it wasn't thorough enough to be extremely helpful which created little impact on my paper. The feedback didn't have enough material in it to help out my paper which is most likely due to the time constraints of the Graider.
Having an extra set of eyes on my paper was very helpful as I edited, revised, and submitted. I didn't spend much time talking with my teacher about what Regan had commented, but her feedback was very helpful.
I understand that my grader only had 9 minutes to read and suggest revisions on my essay, but on the very few comments my grader made, none of them where specific. They all told me to just fix an overall problem, however, it was hard to identify this problem without evidence of what the problem was as the grader did not point out specifically what she was making the comment about. Again, this may have just been because she had 9 minutes to grade the paper. But most of the feedback just wasn't specific enough so it did not help my paper tremendously but it did help me fix few minor issues.
This is the most convenient way to get high level feedback within a quick time period
It is helpful to see what areas of the rubric I needed work on, but not necessary to show how my opinion differs from the grader.
I had already put a tremendous amount of work into my essay before I was informed the Graide Network was reviewing my work.  Therefore, I was not motivated to put forth any more effort prior to the grading.  Also, I was also already extremely motivated to revise and refine my essay, so the extra feedback did not spur me on much extra.  However, the feedback I received was helpful, and I think my essay was improved because of it.  
The Graider pointed out some key areas for improvement, which made me want to revise my paper.
I can't really say much because I hardly got time to revise my essay using the Graide feedback because of peer editing. The feedback was good though.
I tried harder on the essay, and made as many revisions as I could. However, she didn't give me much feedback for future assignments, like trends in my writing.
I don't know if this had to do with the volume of the class, given that the whole class had only one Graider, however I felt the feedback was quite underdeveloped and wasn't very helpful at all. It was just disappointing because this was such a large and important assignment that we had been working on for over a month.
The feedback was good, but it was mostly stuff I have seen before from a teacher or peer.
My grader only gave me about 4 comments on my nearly 10 page essay. It seems like she didn't even read it.
The project was for a final, so I did not get to use her advice on other assignments, and I was already giving it my 100% before I knew a Graider was looking at it, but she gave me very good advice on conceptual things and ideas, not just grammar.
If I'm being honest, I did not spend a lot of time on my first draft because I was super busy that week.  So a lot of the feedback I got was stuff I already knew I had to fix.  However, I though the Graider was very good and the program is also very good.
Not that concise.
The Graider did a good job at pointing out specifics as well as general themes that she saw in my writing.
It helped point out a few mistakes and let me revisit old ideas and perfect them.
The feedback given on my essay gave me a different perspective my work. Even though some of my writing made sense to me, I realized it would not make as much sense to an outside reader.
The feedback that I received was very surface level. There were only a few comments on my paper and they were more about the overall topic of my paper than the contents of my writing. My graider seemed to disagree with me on the topic of Bob Dylan's faith and made that pretty clear. My graider said that my analysis was superficial when I thought it was heartfelt.
I felt that the suggestions were sub-par and could have been more constructive. However it was helpful with a few instances that made my essay more concise and readable. The suggestions given were also not very broad and didn't help me on a large scale revision process.
I did not actually [know] that I was going to get graded by a Graider (First time hearing it). In addition, my teacher explained to us and the Graider what to look for and how the grading will actually work.
I gave my best effort while writing the first draft of my essay, but I probably didn't try hard enough. Not only that, but because of my lack of knowledge related to the Graide Network, I didn't try harder. When I got feedback on my essay, however, I smiled. I couldn't believe how much feedback I'd gotten. It helped make the revision process a lot more productive.
The essay was our last so I cannot say how well it affected me, but I think that the graide network did help my final product come out better.
Knowing exactly which parts of my essay were strong and which needed improvement helped me to have a much more precise, focused, and motivated revision.
Well, it was helpful, but it was just another layer of feedback. I could have done without it, there was nothing groundbreaking in her feedback.
The graide network has definitely encouraged me to always look for different feedback sources in order to improve my writing.
She was very professional, and gave good criticism. She explained the flaws in my writing very helpfully and allowed me to fix my biggest errors.
The Feedback I got from Shayne was extremely helpful and I feel that she really improved my essay.
Knowing that someone was revising my essay didn't make me try harder, the idea that this was a final made me try harder. Also, the revisions didn't spark any conversations with the teacher for they were self explanatory so that I could understand what to do myself.
I was glad to get extra feedback on my paper. The feedback wasn't extremely extensive, but it still helped to see another individual's opinion on my writing.
My Graider did a great job in helping me to revise my writing. She gave me good advice to help me improve my writing.
She provided great feedback that really helped shaped my essay. My essay flowed better and I was able to remove all repetitive parts.
I think that, using the Graide Network really helped me stop procrastinating. I was already motivated with doing my work and producing a good quality essay but having someone else critique my work was really helpful.
I did not know a Graider would be going over my work until after I finished it so I do not apply to some of the questions but I did enjoy the feedback and got excited to be able to go back to my work and make it better.
It helped me a little. There were so many other things I had to worry about though so some comments were not as important to me as others.
I tried hard on the paper because it was my final, not because someone was going to read it. The feedback helped me to identify the strong areas of my writing and to fix the problematic areas of my writing. I became more interested in reading feedback because that feedback would help me improve on my writing.
I think the grader better helped me to see the flaws in my overall essay. This is important because most peer's just point out the little things that are wrong, and they do not look at your overall essay.

Students were then asked “How would you explain the value of your Graider to your parent or the school principal?” They responded:

It was very helpful
Helps me see the flaws in my works that I could not otherwise.
It allows an outside source who doesn't know me take a look at my work and give total criticism, which improves my writing.
The Graider helped me see the strengths and weaknesses in my essay.
I think it would be more useful if the Graider would spend more time on them. I understand she had a limited amount of time.
I would say the more feedback the better, but I would like it more in depth.
As I stated before, an extra look at an essay is only helpful. Your work will improve with good criticism.
I would explain the value of my Graider as excellent.
It is an unbiased opinion that is based only on your writing and not you as a person because they have never met you and you have never met them.
My Graider focused mainly on the big picture ideas rather than details which I think was good.
I would explain as a helpful idea because it can help a student improve their writing, but it also depends on the comments that each graider gives.
It is useful but not necessary
It could be the difference between an A paper and a B paper.
Good feedback from an outside source that isn't familiar with the particular subject that is being written about.

As nice as it is to introduce new material, the Graider wasn't very helpful.
It is great to have another opinion from a seasoned scholar of English and acquire some better feedback.
I would say that this grading technique allows for personalized feedback to be given rather than a generalized rubric.
Getting another set of eyes to read my essay and provide their thoughts for changes and such is always extremely important to me and i enjoyed had a qualified reader helping me.
Even though she only had 9 minutes to grade a 10 page paper she still nailed it and told me exactly where I went off track and what I needed to do to improve.
It is helpful but not essential since peer editing can do the same thing, especially since it costs money.
The Graider provides an extra set of educated eyes on your writing that allows you to improve your essay.  
It's like someone made PEN into a professional job.
Another set of eyes is always helpful when writing an essay. Also, this way, future teachers can practice grading essays.
It's simply an effective layer of feedback that further allows us to revise and better our writing.
They significantly improved some aspects of my paper.
It's good for pointing out big errors
I would say that the Graider was super helpful in making thoughtful edits to my essay, from grammar mistakes to rhetorical questions.
Somewhat valuable, however there is a lot of room for improvement. Could probably be best utilized on a 1:1 basis.
I think she did very well in evaluating my thesis, which was something that I definitely needed to work on, and it helped me to improve it in the end.
They had a helpful incite, but it seemed like they didn't fully understand the point or process of my project.
Not very valuable as I only received 4 comments.
I would say it is valuable because another student is looking at it, but they are specialized in teaching. This means they know the struggles and guidelines most students have to abide by, but they still can offer great advice.
I would explain it as an extra set of experienced eyes proofreading your work, which is always good.
It gives you more feedback.
I would say that it was helpful to get another mind to help me, however, I believe that these problems could have been worked out by myself or another peer.
Allows you to receive an outside perspective that you know is already well versed in their English skills.
Having a Graider really helped out with my essay. They gave me insight on things I wouldn't have noticed and provided an outside look.
I think that it is a great idea in concept, but the feedback provided to me was of little use because I couldn't change the entire topic of my paper when I had two days left to work on it.
My Graider helped me make other connections that I would not have made due to inexperience in the subject.
I would explain how they gave me advice on a few items in my essay. Not extremely cohesive but somewhat helpful.
I believe it is always a good idea to have someone review your work, and this program provides a service where i can get my work reviewed while also helping someone else who works in that field of study.
My Graider has a lot of experience in the field of English, so they know how to properly write an essay. If a student ever needed help with editing their essay, I would recommend that they check out the Graide Network.
It is useful to get an outside opinion
Having someone of high education add additional feedback to academic work allows for much more improvement in ways I wouldn't have seen before.
Like I said above, it was somewhat helpful, but I could have done without it. I don't think it's necessary in the school's budget.
Their value is extremely worth while for me as feedback will help me become a better writer and a better student.
Shayne was very helpful with my writing. She told me exactly what I did that was good, and helped me understand and point out the flaws. I revised my essay mostly around her criticism.
It is very important because we are getting feedback from a graider that is around our age and they can relate to us better in some cases.
I really appreciate the feedback I have received. I found it to very helpful.
The Graider is very helpful in that it's another set of eyes looking at my paper, providing more criticism and helpful corrections.
They are crucial and very efficient at being able to produce the best work possible. Plus having another student of a higher level, but still studying the subject, helps greatly with seeing all weak parts of your essay and where and how to improve.
The more feedback you have, the more you know what to do when revising your paper.
I would explain that my Graider was very valuable to me in the way that she taught me how to effectively write my analysis in my essay. She helped improve my writing, which is a skill I will probably need in my future.
I would explain to them the importance it is of having a Graider and especially someone who is studying and trying to be a teacher check my work
The Graider becomes a secular point of view that does not know you or the teacher and is able to revise your work without any bias. This allows for somebody completely unattached to your work and the school to be able to go over your writing.
Very helpful for allowing me to write an A-level paper.
I think the value of having a graider is having another pair of eyes to revise my paper.
I would say that this graider was and to serve as another source of peer editing ,and they helped me to improve my paper.

Lastly, students were asked what message they would like to share with their Graider.

Thank you. (x5)
No, I just appreciate the help
Yes. Please tell Regan that she was an outstanding Graider who assisted me in improving all aspects of my paper.
I appreciated their feedback, and it was helpful when finishing my essay.
Regan inspired in me confidence as well as pointing out some important errors that I could fix and make my essay much better.
Not really
Thank you for taking your time to revise our papers for at least 5 hours!
Thanks. You helped me out.
Thank you so much!
I would like to share that although I like the positive remarks, they are not really all that helpful in the revision of my paper.
Thank you for taking the time to read and review my essay
More constructive feedback would be nice, I only had a few comments throughout my 7 page paper.
I really loved all of the motivation.
Be more specific please!
Even though you only had 9 minutes to grade a 10 page paper you still nailed it and told me exactly where I went off track and what I needed to do to improve.
One thing is for the grader not focus on the opinion of the paper but rather if it is good writing. If the grader disagrees with my opinion, the feedback should not be about how my opinion is wrong, rather about how to improve my writing.
Thank you very much for your feedback on my essay, I greatly appreciate it.
I wished instead of more overview based comments, that you made more specific MLA related comments.
Thanks for the help!
Thank you for ponting out some areas for improvement! I took your advice and I think the improvements are great!
University of Michigan is sweet.
Thank you for taking the time to read my paper!
Thank you! Your advice was very helpful and helped me sculpt my ideas and break through writer's block.
I would like to say thank you for your hard work! Also, I would ask you to be a little more specific with your edits.
Thank you so much for your feedback it really helped me.
Thanks for your fedback, it gave me a new perspective on my writing and a view in the eye of an outside reader.
There is no distinct peak in the Vietnam war. It lasted almost twenty years and was continually escalated. Also, Bob Dylan is a religious person.
Thank you for your help and also with the suggestions
Try to do research into the meaning behind an assignment before you grade their essays. Having this will make the grading easier for you and better for the essay writer.
Thank you so much for grading my work! I really do appreciate it!
Thank you so much for sending me feedback on my essay. There were a lot of mistakes that I
didn't notice when I first wrote it, but because of you, I was able to write a better and more detailed essay. Again, thank you so much.
Thanks for the help
I feel like she didn't read the outline prompt very closely. She left me some feedback that if she had read the outline she would understand why I did what I did in my paper. Overall it was fairly helpful though.
Thank you so much for your constructive feedback and I hope that you continue to work at Graide network as your honest feedback is very helpful. Thank you!
Thank you! Your criticism was what I based most of my revisions around! You are quite professional and very helpful.
Thanks for the feedback, Shayne
She told me I had some MLA errors, but they were not wrong at all.
I would like to thank her for spending time finding overall mistakes that I'll be more conscious of in future assignments.
Thank you so much for helping me out, I'm very grateful that you reviewed both my and my classmates' essays so quickly and efficiently.
Thank you so much for editing my essay! It helped a ton!
Thank you so much for grading my essay. It helped so much to be able to produce my best work possible. You were kind with your comments and corrections and even provided positive encouragement for the parts I did well. Thank you!
Shayne, thank you very much for using time out of your day to not only analyze my essay but also all of my classmates. It really helped me out =
Thank you for your help, Ms. Walton. Your comments really helped me turn my essay into an A-level paper.
Thanks for your feedback, it was helpful.
Thanks so much for helping me!!! It was a huge help and it helped me to get a better grade


To learn more about providing effective feedback on students work, including many tips from Mr. Damaso, listen to (or read the full transcript) of this segment on the National Writing Project Radio Show.

Mr. Damaso also writes about English and educational technology. Check out his blog!

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