Anti-Cheating Software Incorrectly Flags Students

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Dec 21, 2020 | 0 Comments

COVID-19 continues to ravage the United States, with more than 303,000 deaths and nearly 17,000,000 cases. Many colleges and universities responded to the pandemic by offering more classes virtually or even holding no classes in person and only hosting online courses. With so many students working remotely, professors and college administrators have searched for ways to track and combat cheating. Consequently, one business that's boomed is that of anti-cheating software companies, such as Respondus Monitor, Honorlock, and Proctorio. In the middle of a stressful pandemic, where students are already coping with unprecedented delivery of their education, these software programs add to the stress, both by their invasiveness and their potential inaccuracy.

SDSU Students Raise Accuracy, Privacy, & Data Concerns Over Respondus

At the end of November, Voice of San Diego reported stories of several students who were flagged for cheating in response to “routine behaviors” and who had concerns about the privacy and data implications. In order to use the program, students must record themselves and the space they are using to take the exam.

Respondus maintains all data for five years, and although the CEO wrote in an email, “proctoring data collected by the monitoring software is under the control of the university, not the company.” However, as the article points out, regardless of who has control of the data, Respondus retains access to it.

One student described the recording process as “creepy” and Jason Kelley, from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital privacy group, stated, “You have to do a crotch shot, basically.”

Data and privacy concerns however pale in comparison to student William Scott Molina's experience. Molina is a 31-year-old student with a 3-year-old daughter.

Molina was flagged twice: for the second and third exam for his business administration course, once as a warning for not properly showing the front and back of his notes, and for the final exam for getting up at the beginning of the class, for using the calculator on problems that didn't require it, and for solving problems too quickly. This final flag resulted in an F for the course (he had earned an A prior to the final exam).

Molina appealed the decision, and after multiple meetings were canceled and rescheduled by SDSU's Center for Student Rights and Responsibilities, Molina presented his case. The school did not pursue any disciplinary action, and his grade was reinstated, nearly two months later.

Honor Code Violations

As more and more schools rely on similar software programs, it's clear that unfounded allegations could possibly increase. An academic misconduct allegation can severely impact financial aid, graduate school applications, and more. It's critical that students have someone to protect their interests as algorithms are used to determine whether or not someone has cheated.

Experienced Academic Misconduct Attorney-Advisor

Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm bring dedication and passion to every student case they encounter. Over many years, the Lento Law Firm has helped thousands of students defend themselves from allegations at their colleges or universities across the nation. Contact us today to discuss your case or call 888.535.3686.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients nationwide. Attorney Lento and his team represent students and others in disciplinary cases and various other proceedings at colleges and universities across the United States. Attorney Lento has helped countless students, professors, and others in academia at more than a thousand colleges and universities across the United States, and when necessary, he and his team have sought justice on behalf of clients in courts across the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide, and he can help you or your student address any school-related issue or concern anywhere in the United States.


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