To Members of the Cougar Community,
There have been many questions and concerns circulating among faculty, students, and families about WSU’s use of ProctorU to monitor tests administered remotely. We’d like to address the concerns and provide information about our decisions and student options.
Some students and parents are disappointed because they feel that by procuring a proctoring system, the University is assuming that students will engage in academic misconduct absent an independent observer. We know that most students adhere to ethical behavior and would do so regardless of a proctoring service. Nonetheless, this is an issue of fairness to the vast majority of students who are trustworthy–when some students violate academic integrity, it’s unfair for the rest. Not only will honest students’ hard work not be properly reflected, since violations of academic integrity call into question the meaningfulness of course grades, but widespread violations ultimately call into question the integrity of a WSU degree. Proctoring levels the playing field so that students who follow the rules are not penalized in the long run by those who don’t.
Proctoring, in the form of faculty monitoring students in the classroom, has always been part of the on-campus test-taking experience. However, with the move to remote learning last spring, there was an increase in faculty reports of academic misconduct, enough so that we realized we needed to put into place a monitoring system to ensure academic integrity. This is important enough that WSU is assuming the cost of remote proctoring for all students this term.
We also understand that students and parents have safety concerns in the aftermath of publicity about a data breach at ProctorU. Like many other organizations, including banks, Microsoft, and state and federal government agencies—even Instagram—ProctorU fell victim to a breach. WSU is deeply concerned about data security and vets the security practices of all companies with whom we contract. We have vetted ProctorU and its top competitors and are satisfied that ProctorU has implemented and maintains the appropriate security measures to protect institutional information under their care, and that they maintain security measures comparable to or better than their competitors in the field. They are compliant with FERPA, HIPAA, and Washington state law regarding disclosure of personal information.
Other security and privacy concerns have been raised regarding ProctorU’s Chrome extension, which is installed on the test-taker’s computer. We deem it no more a risk than any other security-vetted software that requires download such as Windows, Office, Zoom, or Adobe products. ProctorU’s program can only access what is pertinent to the exam situation: capture content of your screen and webcam, detect location, read/modify data you copy and paste as well as communicate with you during the exam. It can also be removed as soon as the test is over. For more information see ProctorU on the Chrome web store.
Per WSU’s contract, the recorded session is managed by an artificial intelligence “bot” and no human is on the other end at ProctorU watching the student. Only the WSU instructor can review the recorded session. Photo IDs are cleared after seven days. Recorded information is kept for a time period that is consistent with WSU’s and State of Washington rules on retention of student records.
We are very concerned about some students’ reports that their computers are not configured to be able to use ProctorU because they lack webcams or their internet connection is unstable or slow. We are working as quickly as possible to address these issues. The University has ordered additional Chromebooks for the computer loan program, and has verified that they will work with the type of proctoring we are using. Hotspots are also still available. We are working with Comcast on a program to provide home internet to Pell recipients for $9.95 per month if they live in a Comcast service area. We are also pursuing adding webcams to the loan program as well as exploring the possibility of on-campus testing sites. Some students may also be eligible to apply for emergency grant aid to support such costs.
Additionally, support is available to help manage test-taking anxiety, stress, and time management challenges through the ASCC calendar of workshops.
Finally, if students cannot or do not wish to take a test using ProctorU, then with the prior agreement of the faculty member they can arrange for on-site proctoring. Students will bear that cost individually. Faculty need to email email@example.com to start the process for face-to-face exams. Students need to start the process to nominate a proctor at least two-weeks prior to the exam date.
We believe that most students observe the rules and principles of academic integrity. We also believe that it is our fundamental duty to uphold the integrity of a WSU degree.
Elizabeth S. Chilton
Provost and Executive Vice President
Chancellor, WSU Global Campus
Chief Information Officer