Sunday, April 21, 2013

An attempt to keep tests safe from cell phones

For years now, tests/exams administered in classroom settings have been susceptible to public distribution by cheaters who would photograph them on their cell phones and broadcast them.

I gave a student a zero on a test years ago because she was texting during a test. Her mother demanded a conference to plead her case. The parent went so far as to suggest I should have confiscated the child's phone, accessed the text messages, determined said messages were not test-related, and allowed her daughter to go about her business. I politely declined any such suggestion and proceeded with my original plan. Both parent and child were furious with my outrageous inflexibility.

My friend, Dan Burns, teaches at Los Gatos High School. He recently posted this to the PTSOS Discussion Group:

"Phones must be in backpacks, purses etc. These are put in a location out of arm's reach from where they are testing. Any student caught with a phone during a test is given a zero on the test and a cheating referral. No exceptions, no excuses. This is how the the CSET and other professional tests are administered. The important thing is to explain this in detail to students before applying these rules. Make sure your admin backs you up. Before they start any test they are given a verbal reminder and a chance to put their phone away. Once the test is handed out, any student caught with a phone on their person gets a zero. It is assumed they took pictures, distributed them and then deleted them. You do not need to catch them in the act."

Is it perfect? Completely impervious to a determined cheater's capabilities? I doubt it. But it's better than allowing them easy access to a camera/wireless distribution device during an assessment. It is something. And that's better than nothing.

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