Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Technology, Schools, and Grades

At the high school that I graduated from last year, comes news that two students have been arrested for “computer theft after authorities said they hacked into the school computer system and improved grade records for four other students.” This was only the second year in which the computer system for inputting grades was used. In a time when young teens are very proficient in terms of technology, there has to be more security for a website that holds the grades of over 2000 students. Just think, if an 18-year old student could do it, think about the numerous parents who have the skill and ability to hack into the system. The grades were changed around June and only in September, after one student had gone to college, was the grade changing discovered.

In addition, I learned from friends that the librarian had given out the password to the grade system to several students who were close to her. One of those students, who goes to the University of Pennsylvania now, would log in at her home and view the grades of students “competing” with her to get into several colleges. Everyone knows that nothing (technologically speaking) will ever be hacker-free. People will always find a way. In this town, all a student would have to do is find out the ip-address of server and leave it up to his daddy to do the rest. I am sure that this is not the only place that this has happened. So what can be done? School districts all across the country will undoubtedly want to switch from an all paper-based grade system to just inputting grades into a computer. The grading system (I can’t remember the name of it) was slow and often crashed while teachers were inputting their grades (teachers would complain all the time about it). For something as important as grades, shouldn’t it have been tested more for security and performance purposes?

For those interested, here is the news story:

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