Proctorio and Online Cheating

Schools and universities are constantly looking for ways to serve their students while cutting costs. Online test proctoring allows students to take exams where they choose, while institutions can save on space and salaries. Proctorio goes a step further and allows students to test at any time, with no scheduling requirement. Proctorio boasts more than 400 organizations as its clients, including Amazon, the Mayo Clinic, and some of the biggest names in higher education, like Harvard, Columbia, Georgetown, Boston College, and Duke.

Big Words, Simple Goal

While Proctorio uses high-flying language like “total learning integrity,” “learning integrity platform,” and “increasing the availability of quality and fair education, in the end, their mission comes down to catching cheaters.

Like other third-party online proctoring companies, Proctorio relies on software to make its service affordable and, thus, an attractive option for institutions looking to out-source testing operations. Proctorio says it uses machine learning and “state-of-the-art facial detection technology.” They claim this technology eliminates human error, but this is a very simplistic view of the process. While automating large parts of the assessment process, the over-reliance on technology removes humans and human understanding from the process.

Proctorio markets its service as “scalable .” These services start with automated proctoring, which is a software-only offering that supposedly “eliminates human error, [and] bias.” However, Proctorio's next option is live proctoring, which involves remote monitoring by a human proctor. The final proctoring option is a professional review, which, again, includes a human being. In this last option, a Proctorio employee reviews flagged incidents of suspected cheating. After making so much of its software's infallibility, It seems odd that Proctorio would offer two human-based options to its higher-paying customers. Offering human options at all seems to imply that Proctorio's software is something less than perfect.

Regardless, as soon as Proctorio sends a report of suspicious behavior back to the hiring institution, humans are back in the loop. Or they should be: It's certainly plausible that a school, having paid Proctorio to catch cheaters, won't be very motivated to spend time and money reviewing the video. Easier just to label a student as a cheater and mete out punishment. Once charged by the institution, the student is now working from a disadvantage.


A student shouldn't be labeled a cheater and suffer consequences just because a computer program found their eye movements “suspicious.” The Lento Law Firm makes sure institutions know that these accusations are serious and that a full and thorough examination of the facts is a must before branding someone a cheater.

Unlike other online education platforms and proctoring services, Proctorio does not extol the importance of school adopting a code of student rights or even an honor code. These codes form the foundation that protects students from false accusations. On this foundation should rest the procedures and processes that provide due process to a test-taker alleged to be a cheater. As agents of a public trust, school administrators must provide due process to the accused. Where these protections are codified, Joseph D. Lento helps the student navigate these complicated proceedings, avoiding pitfalls and ensuring the student has the best possible defense. When a school has failed to adopt procedures, the Lento Law Firm can negotiate a fair hearing and ensure a student's rights under state and federal law are protected.

…for Life?

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Proctorio is also the most insidious. Far from limiting itself to reporting suspicious behavior to school administrators and employers, Proctorio assigns “suspicion ratings” to test-takers, based on analysis over the entire “length of their academic careers.”

When a student is accused of cheating, there is a range of possible consequences, ranging from academic probation to expulsion. While these are serious consequences that can have far-reaching effects, Proctorio's secret database might be even more damaging. Will Harvard check a prospective student's “suspicion rating” in Proctorio before accepting them? Will Amazon make a low “suspicion rating” a condition of employment?

A cheating accusation based on Proctorio reporting might be the only way to know a student or employee has been assigned a “suspicion rating.” This might be your only chance to challenge a label that could follow a test-taker for life. A criminal arrest record can be expunged--what might it take to get someone's name out of a private database?

Not only does Joseph D. Lento ensure a student the best possible outcome of an academic misconduct proceeding, but he can also help you fight a negative label with no expiration date.

So Fight!

An accusation of cheating can be extremely stressful, but there are some steps a student can take to positively affect the outcome of an incident. While it's normal to want to answer an accusation immediately, waiting is the better option. A student should not admit to anything at all, even though the temptation to offer an explanation in mitigation is strong. Instead, try to understand what information administrators are using and the full details of the allegation. Save texts, e-mails, and screenshots, along with contact information of any witnesses. Keep notes of events that happened, and when. Get copies of the institution's policies and review them for disparities with the allegation. Finally, and perhaps most critically, get in touch with an attorney-advisor specializing in academic misconduct matters.

The Lento Law Firm has extensive experience representing students accused of cheating. Joseph D. Lento ensures the administration takes a student's defense seriously. An institution's administrators, including those in a school's Office of Student Conduct, have every incentive to save time and resources by taking Proctorio reports at face value. This can deprive a student of their due process or overlook extenuating circumstances in a student's case. Joseph D. Lento knows the law and protects students by holding the administration to its policies. The Lento Law Firm assures administrators have the full picture, taking into account all aspects of a student's situation, such as disabilities, the death of a friend or family member, medical issues or serious illness, and other significant life events. Joseph D. Lento knows how to negotiate with administrators--and if negotiation fails, you want a hard-fighting lawyer in your corner. Discuss your case with the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686.