Students in Florida are scratching their heads after failing exams. This was the result of being flagged as potential cheaters by software that invalidates tests found to have suspiciously similar answer patterns. The test security company that offers this test-assessing program uses data forensics that compares tests against one another and matches those with similar answering patterns. As a result, earlier this year the software tracked no less than 2,887 tests with irregularities, that is, with similar answers raising concerns over student malpractice. This had led thousands of students to flunk because the software flagged their tests.
While the software doesn’t accuse students of cheating per se, it does invalidate their individual scores until a review can take place to determine whether the student actually cheated or not.
Students who believe their tests were unjustly flagged have resorted to invalidation appeals, a time-consuming and frustrating process for both, students and parents. Even in cases when students, the proctoring teacher, the principal, and school vouch for their students’ integrity, the process is state-run and there’s no way of fast-forwarding or circumventing it. Students will have to wait for the investigations to be completed and until then, they’re guilty until proven innocent.
Does this approach seem broad to you? Is it realistic to say that with the same knowledge base, answering the same question may produce similar results? Do you think these students should be allowed to pass now and then have their scores invalidated later if the allegations of cheating are confirmed?