Who are you?
Moktar Alqaderi, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer at Progressay.
What do you do?
Progressay is an AI essay marking platform. We use artificial intelligence such as natural language processing and machine learning to mark essays. I am an ex-teacher and lawyer. Progressay was born after I had left teaching because of the workload. I was shocked to find how inaccurate marking really is. I set out to solve the very problems that had driven me away from teaching.
We were part of cohort 6 of the EDUCATE programme and have been recognised with an Evidence-Aware EdWard.
What educational challenge are you trying to meet?
We have two main goals. The first is to improve marking accuracy through automated marking. Progressay aims to improve marking accuracy using state-of-the-art Natural Language Processing which processes student writing and automates feedback. The way teachers currently mark is unreliable and since attainment has a direct correlation to future earning potential, with poor families aspiring to achieve social mobility through education, marking reliably has far-reaching consequences. Secondly, we aim to aid teacher retention by reducing the cognitive load exerted during the marking process. The fact that teachers are overworked means they cannot be expected to mark or provide feedback in order to improve marking reliability.
What impact did the EDUCATE programme have on your product and company?
When we started EDUCATE, we couldn’t validate our claims to enhance marking reliability. After being on the programme we can proudly say we have been given the tools to be able to track the metrics needed to validate our logic model and theory of change. We have managed to show how our product is able to enhance marking reliability and reduce teacher workload.
EDUCATE has also helped us by introducing us to key partners such as the Ministry of Education in Singapore. They have given us mentoring which has really guided us with where we need to be to take the next important steps as a business.
What impact has achieving an EdWard had on you personally, and on your company or product?
As a hallmark of educational excellence, the EdWard has really helped us to validate our product. Now we are gaining a reputation for being an EdTech start-up that is rooted in evidence which is important because schools deserve to use tech that is proven to work. We boast of our EdWard with pride as it is a sign of our dedication and commitment to evidence-based research and lets our partners and customers know, too.
What advice would you give to prospective EDUCATE participants?
We find ourselves in education chiefly because we want to help people to learn and grow. EDUCATE helped us to understand how we can identify, measure and track impact. EDUCATE really understands that research can be daunting and time-consuming, particularly for entrepreneurs trying to build businesses, and go over and above to make it as effective as possible. For this reason, I would wholeheartedly recommend the programme as an amazing opportunity to really delve deep into the evidence behind the impact. It involved a lot of back and forth with our mentor as we initially had to define our project aims in a concise way, but ultimately this process was essential to streamline our research.