Con: Proctoring extensions invade the student’s privacy and add additional stress.

Big Brother is in your classroom, tracing your IP address and monitoring your every move, right down to the hesitation in your pupils. Since the transition to online learning, students have been taking tests at home. In order to ensure that students are not cheating, some teachers have required students to download proctoring extensions onto their devices to ensure that no student is cheating, but the methods used are akin to a dystopian novel where rights are violated for the “greater good”.

To ensure the integrity of exams, proctoring extensions use a variety of methods to ensure that students are not cheating, including tapping into students’ cameras, microphones and computer screens. However, these proctoring extensions are unfair to students because they are an invasion of students’ privacy while not giving them the option to refuse while adding unnecessary stress to the test-taking process.

Proctoring extensions should not be implemented because they violate students’ privacy. Some extensions like Blocksi allow teachers to monitor students’ screens during an exam to ensure academic integrity and productivity. This is on the route of violating the rulings of Robbins v. Lower Merion School District, where the school district was sued for secretly spying on students through school-issued devices. The rulings state that the school district should never look at a student’s file without their consent or unless there are reasons for suspicion. Screen monitoring could cause teachers to see personal information that was supposed to be kept confidential, and this is at a higher risk since most students use a personal device. Students should be allowed to protect their privacy, especially in an environment where their safety should be prioritized.

Students will always face stress and anxiety when it comes to tests. It is a natural process of school, but students should not have to feel the additional pressure of being constantly watched by teachers. One of the ways these proctoring extensions, like Proctorio that Irvine Valley College uses, ensures academic success by tracking students’ eye movements. This creates difficulties and anxiety for many students, as a video system analyzes students’ eyes for “suspicious behavior”. Irvine Virtual Academy uses Blocksi, which not only allows teachers to monitor students’ screens, but also the ability to control them to an extent. This pressure and constant feeling of being watched does not allow all students to perform their best, as they feel more stressed than they should. Tests have always been stressful, but why should students face the added pressure of being watched on top of that? Students should be respected enough to be given an adequate testing environment in order to perform their best.

While there must be a method to make sure students are not cheating, it should not be done with the sacrifice of students’ privacy. Recently, problems arose with the College Board regarding the Advanced Placement (AP) tests. The AP tests previously used a software that records students’ mouse and keyboard movements to ensure integrity, but the information could be sold to third parties like YouTube, Facebook, or Google. Even Blocksi sells information they’ve collected about students, which may contain locations or sites that students’ have accessed. This is every parents’ worst nightmare: their kids are being watched through their screens, and who can they trust? Students should not have to sacrifice their privacy for their education. These extensions are well-intentioned, but risk the safety and security of students.

Students’ privacy should not be sacrificed for a test score. The proctoring extensions do not help create a safe and constructive learning environment, but instead, contribute to additional stress and anxiety. Teachers should not have access to our personal devices to watch us at any time. Instead, schools should prioritize students’ privacy and wellbeing over test results.