Unguarded ‘FCAT Explorer’ passwords pose dilemma

”FCAT Explorer” student accounts apparently are being hacked by students and used to cheat and — in some cases — change other students’ answers. The supplemental curriculum is a state-funded, online educational program that reinforces students’ reading and math skills outlined in the Sunshine State Standards.

“Students today are technologically savvy, but I believe it is safe to say that students also share login and password information with their friends,” Assistant Principal for Curriculum Jacqueline Ingratta said.

Student usernames and passwords are formed using a generic format with the students’ first and last names, making it easy for any student to know another student’s login information.

“Since ‘FCAT Explorer’ is a state program, the [Department of Education] will need to put measures in place to prevent such cheating from reoccurring,” Ingratta said. “Students are inclined to cheat for a number of reasons, [for example], pressure to do well on an assignment, or failing grades.”

Ingratta said that because teachers have no way of knowing whether a student’s score is accurate, they find often alternative ways to count “FCAT Explorer” work as a grade.

“Teachers may assign ‘FCAT Explorer’ as an extra-credit assignment or as additional practice to assist with some of the skills needed to perform well on the standardized assessments,” Ingratta said. “If teachers know that students are cheating, they will not use it as often or they will not provide a grade associated with students using the program.

By Addie Steele