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Education Bug Government

Scottish Students Used Spellchecker Glitch To Cheat In Literacy Test (bbc.com) 167

Thelasko shares a report from the BBC: Schools are to be given advice on how to disable a glitch that allows pupils sitting online spelling tests to right-click their mouse and find the answer. It follows the discovery by teachers that children familiar with traditional computer spellcheckers were simply applying it to the tests. The Scottish National Standardized Assessments were introduced to assess progress in four different age groups. A spokesman said the issue was not with the Scottish National Standardized Assessments (SNSA) but with browser or device settings on some machines.

Introduced in 2017, the spelling test asks children to identify misspelt words. However, on some school computers the words were highlighted with a red line. Pupils who right-clicked on the words were then able to access the correct spelling. The web-based SNSA tool enables teachers to administer online literacy and numeracy tests for pupils in P1, P4, P7 and S3, which are marked and scored automatically. Advice is being given to schools about how to disable the spellchecking function.

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Scottish Students Used Spellchecker Glitch To Cheat In Literacy Test

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  • by WoodstockJeff ( 568111 ) on Thursday May 17, 2018 @09:32PM (#56630190) Homepage

    ... suck worse at spelling than students, though.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Spell checkers particularly suck at British English. We accept both -ize and -ise, with the former being the Oxford standard that I prefer. But most spell checkers only know -ise for English.

    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Friday May 18, 2018 @08:25AM (#56632128)

      Eye halve a spelling chequer
      It came with my pea sea
      It plainly marques four my revue
      Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.
      Eye strike a quay and type a word
      And weight four it two say
      Weather eye am wrong oar write
      It shows me strait a weigh.
      As soon as a mist ache is maid
      It nose bee fore two long
      And eye can put the error rite
      Its really ever wrong.
      Eye have run this poem threw it
      I am shore your pleased two no
      Its letter perfect in it's weigh
      My chequer tolled me sew.

    • Normally a bad spell checker will give you congestion of properly spelt words, just not the correct word in context.

  • wouldn't be too hard to detect affected browsers and deny the test .. or disable it with some clever js or images or whatnot.
    • shock horror someone in the education department is not very educated

      In the freaking standard and supported by many browsers :


      They never tested it and I'll bet its not accessible to low vision or disabled ( alternative inputs) either...

      however it is at least better than a native windows app which would lock the school into paying for Microsoft word...


      • by Cederic ( 9623 )

        When it comes to using technology to subvert the education system it's always safe to assume the children know a fuck of a lot more than the teachers.

        At a school you'll have maybe three teachers that have the background, interest and skills to look into this shit. You'll have 300 children, and once one knows, they all know.

        That's the thing about schools, they're full of people that when appropriately motivated are fucking good at learning things.

    • Why not just force them to use Internet Explorer 4? That didn't have a spell checker in it, and I've got a Microsoft Plus! CD somewhere around here.

      They can have it for free.

      • I think Microsoft Plus only came with 1.0. IE4 was bundled with Windows 98, while version 2 and 3 were with later releases of Windows 95.

    • wouldn't be too hard to detect affected browsers and deny the test .. or disable it with some clever js or images or whatnot.

      Better yet - give wrong answers. If a kid is cheating on most of the questions, it will be apparent by the pattern of wrong answers selected.

  • by lordlod ( 458156 ) on Thursday May 17, 2018 @09:39PM (#56630206)
    Better headline: Teachers shocked to discover that students doing tests on a computer knew how to operate the computer.
    • by orlanz ( 882574 )

      Yup. Thinking the same thing. The solution is obviously to reverse roles and let the teachers & implementation learn something from the kids. It may take a few years thou.

      Hopefully the collective laughing of the internet will instill the idiots to do some basic QA before releasing. But most likely they will run back to pencil, paper, and scantrons or hire even more expensive consultants to check a QA box but not actually do it.

  • Nor is this stuff that matters.

    Embarrassing and silly, but upon reading the summary, understandable how it happened. Not worth wasting screen space for.

    • Actually it's a good lesson that browser based isn't always the best option. Unless you lock down which browser and which version (good luck with that).

      Keeping up with Angular exposes browser compatibility issues, it's like the late 1990s again...

    • Nor is this stuff that matters.

      I'm the OP, and I totally disagree with you. There are stories [slashdot.org] about bugs [slashdot.org] and misconfigured computers [slashdot.org] all of the time here on Slashdot. This is a story about a large IT infrastructure being beaten by script kiddies [slashdot.org] (literally kiddies). This is what Slashdot is all about.

  • For computer literacy.

    Or whatever counts as a high mark in UK schools. They don't use ABCDF, or do they?

  • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Thursday May 17, 2018 @10:48PM (#56630432)
    The test creators failed the test. Really, kudos to those who correctly spelled full words, regardless of the means. Hopefully, they've also learned better than to text "r u ok, lmk" while wearing a baseball hat with the brim in the back.
  • I think feature would be more appropriate...

  • by dromgodis ( 4533247 ) on Friday May 18, 2018 @02:19AM (#56631194)

    If only there were a way to put the test questions on a medium that did not provide automatic access to spell checking, internet etc.

    Darn, I would gladly kill a tree for such a solution.

  • Sure, disable spell checkers... because in real life they don't exist either,

    Sure, it's fine to be able to remember everything but it's only a few who can do it close to perfectly. The rest just need to be able to know how to proof your writing afterwards. It's completely similar to proficiency tests when hiring new people for IT jobs like operations. Sure, it's fine to know exactly what every error means and how to fix them, but it's just as good to know your limits and how to use Google for the rest. What

  • We solve the problems they way we can.
  • The solution is obvious- save all of the misspelled words in the spell checker dictionary so they all show as correct. Vindictive version- only save one or two misspelled words and remove the correct spelling. They could also set another language as default, or better yet remove the dictionary or use a program without a spell checker.

  • I can't fcuking spill for shet wuthot it.
  • After fixing all the glitches, the students will have to copy-paste the text to a spellchecker-enabled window.

    Then they will disable copying.

    The students will then take a screenshot and OCR it into a spellchecker window.

    Then ...

  • Who cares how they spell things, they're going to mispronounce the words anyway.

In the realm of scientific observation, luck is granted only to those who are prepared. - Louis Pasteur