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How to prevent cheating in virtual school now that kids are learning at home

The Rebound Detroit: How to prevent cheating in virtual school now that kids are learning at home
Posted at 8:08 PM, Sep 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-10 20:08:30-04

Inside West Bloomfield High School there is no chatter of students shuffling down the halls, no school announcements, or school bells.

So far this year, only teachers are allowed to occupy classrooms.

The students are at home, many working with no supervision for the very first time, operating in a largely unregulated setting in what some worry could be the wild wild west of schooling.

Maintaining accountability and integrity is now a big challenge as technology puts the chance to cheat right at a student's fingertips.

"You can Google pretty much anything and you can find pretty much any answer to any test that comes from a commercial publisher," said Ethan Fieldman from Math Nation.

One parent we spoke with is not overly concerned.

"Well, of course, I think it’s a thing to worry about," said a Northville dad. "I think testing will ultimately be the final decision, so if they get tested and they can’t make it, then that’s a clear scale."

Is that really the case?

"A lot of students are sharing the teachers' test," said Fieldman.

Ethan Fieldman, CEO of learning support platform, Math Nation, says cheating is actually big business these days.

"A lot of people see money in creating a company to help students cheat, unfortunately," said Fieldman. "So they are popping up quickly."

Today it’s more accessible than ever before. A quick search under the words “take my exam for me” pulled up 548 million options. Within seconds, I found well-established sites like Boost My Grade and NoNeedToStudy.com.

"It has to look different than we’ve ever thought about assessment in the past."

West Bloomfield High School Assistant Superintendent Deanna Barash says tackling the problem must be two-pronged - with adjustments by the teachers as well.

"You really can’t have students doing things like multiple-choice tests or things that they would not have to have authentic answers," said Barash. "So we are really saying things more like projects where you really have to do the work."

It will also have to include adjustments from the parents.

"One thing you can do at home is, the best thing is to proctor, is to watch them when there is a big exam," said Fieldman.

Without looking at the screen, Fieldman and Barash say parents just being in the same room can diminish a child’s cheating significantly. Since that’s not always possible, a second recommendation is limiting the child’s access.

"You can block all web sites except for the web site your student should be using," said Fieldman.

Also, a key element for success is to make sure you give students the resources they need to understand.