Students across the state of Florida recently shared writing prompt questions on social media. The writing section prompt of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) can be easily obtained by following related hash tags on Twitter.
According to TBO.com, the students who sat the FCAT signed a testing rules acknowledgement, which prohibited the verbal and electronic sharing of test-related information. This however didn’t prevent them from giving clues about the FCAT with fellow students on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
During the first day of the test, Facebook updates, tweets and photos were revealing the writing prompt questions, effectively undermining the test’s integrity and validity. Many students’ papers are expected to be invalidated due to the information sharing online.
In 2013 alone, a total of 635 FCATs were invalidated across the state and the number is expected to be bigger this year. The rule breaching doesn’t constitute school failure to contain its students; however it does raise wider concerns over the ability to influence students and their use of social media. The students signed an acknowledgement paper yet they easily defied it, by sharing clues on the FCAT via social media.
As younger students become avid social media users, digital literacy needs to be taken more seriously so that students can understand better the concepts of privacy, information sharing and what’s considered digital cheating.
Online and in-class proctoring can serve as a valuable piece to ensure academic integrity is maintained and situations like this are avoided in the future.