Students have figured out how to exploit testing software that uses AI technology to grade written answers. Several students explained to reporters this week that the software gives perfect scores on essay questions after students simply entered a list of relevant keywords instead of a standard test answer.
According to a report by the Verge, multiple students around the nation have found a loophole in an increasingly popular online testing software that allows them to obtain perfect scores on essay questions by submitting a list of relevant keywords instead of legitimate answers.
Schools around the nation have turned to Edgenuity, a testing software, to administer tests in the age of coronavirus. After noticing that the software was capable of grading essay questions in an instant, some creative students (and one parent) tried to trick the system.
Dana Simmons, a professor of history at the collegiate level, realized that the software was only scanning for relevant keywords after her 12-year-old son came to her concerned about his scores on Edgenuity exams.
“The questions are things like… ‘What was the advantage of Constantinople’s location for the power of the Byzantine empire,’” Simmons said. “So you go through, okay, what are the possible keywords that are associated with this? Wealth, caravan, ship, India, China, Middle East, he just threw all of those words in.”
Simmons acknowledged that her child has benefited from her expertise as an educator. She expressed concern for other students that will be punished by the whims of the digital grading mechanism.
“He’s getting an A+ because his parents have graduate degrees and have an interest in tech,” she explained. “Otherwise he would still be getting Fs. What does that tell you about… the digital divide in this online learning environment?”
Other students exploiting flaws in the Edgenuity platform claimed that they passed an Algebra 2 class by searching for answers online.
Education and its testing tools have been disrupted by concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. As a result of school closures, schools have been forced to adjust quickly to software solutions that, in many cases, had not yet been tested at scale.
Breitbart reported in May that the University of California had decided to make the SAT and ACT exam optional for applicants after dozens of administrations of the exams were canceled due to the pandemic.