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If a Student Games an Algorithm is it Cheating?

September 3, 2020

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This article from Verge describes how several students across the country have figured out how to game an algorithm used by a tech company to get 100s on every extended response question which, in turn, inflates their overall grades in the course. The article referred to this gambit as “cheating”… but is it really? If a school district outsources instruction and grading to AI to save money why should a student who figured out how to game the algorithm be called “cheaters”? If a contractor used a flawed program to calculate a bill would the consumer who paid the amount on that bill be called a “cheater” if they paid what the contractor asked for?

A more apt analogy is whether it is cheating when a parent enrolls their child in an SAT prep course to learn how to game those tests by skipping questions or guessing the answers. How is using the SAT scoring algorithm to one’s advantage NOT a form of cheating?

I was not surprised to read that the school had no comment, for their desire to substitute a for profit AI based instruction for that of a teacher is where the real cheating is taking place.

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