Students submit their essays to the program, and within 30 seconds, they receive feedback on grammar, usage, punctuation and spelling errors.
The program also comments on ways to improve style and write strong persuasive arguments.
English teacher Debra Allen said she has seen improvement in the writing of her students, especially in the understanding of core concepts.
Allen gives her students writing prompts, either from the program or one she creates, and students complete their work in the program.
They have the option of planning their writing using different outlining tools.
If the students plan their essay with a tool, some of the organized information is immediately transferred into the typing space.
After completing the assignment, students submit the work to the program, and within 30 seconds, receive data-based information and suggestions on their work.
Unlike a spell check program, Criterion does not insert its own corrections into the students writing.
Instead, it makes suggestions and points out errors.
Students can click on an error, and a description of they type and manner of the gaffe will pop up.
"It tells me what I do wrong, and I can go back and fix it," Alexis Holbert said about the program.
Also, students can see a chart of the number of times certain mistakes were made.
After reviewing mistakes, students edit and resubmit their essays. Each submittal gives students a score, 1-6, to guide them on the quality of their work.
Allen said she has seen students work harder to improve their scores and want to resubmit their papers.
Teachers are still part of the process when using Criterion. Students ask for advice on revising their work, and teachers can look at frequent errors across the class to plan for review sessions.
Allen does the grading on the students work, which is popular with the students. The class agreed that sometimes the program does not recognize style or language usage correctly.
A bonus for the classroom is students feel more engaged while working on a computer.
"The teacher has to run around the room and help students usually. You can have one-on-one time with the computer," Bridgette Newbry said. "It's beneficial because, on paper, you have to look up your mistakes, erase and rewrite. It doesn't look good."
Allen said the program is not as helpful to the higher-achieving students, as there are fewer corrections to make, and lower achieving students have a hard time submitting enough material to be evaluated by the program.
But she said the program is extremely helpful to the students who fall in between those categories.
This is the first year Northview has used Criterion, and the positive results mean the program will be used more heavily in next year's curriculum.