by Bryan Kim ’23
This school year, MCPS will not be utilizing Turnitin.com, a plagiarism detection software used in high school English classes for longer than a decade. Towards the end of last school year, MCPS and Turnitin.com had a dispute regarding the protection of student and staff privacy, ultimately leading to the end of the contract. Without Turnitin.com, plagiarism and cheating has become an increasing worry among English teachers.
“Plagiarism has always been a concern even with Turnitin.com. Now, without this platform we are more concerned that students may be more eager to plagiarize,” said Lynnette Evans-Williams, head of the English department.
The English teachers plan on using a program called Google LTI 1.3, a similar plagiarism detection software. Teachers also intend on making smaller changes to help mitigate cheating such as assigning different texts, assigning similar assignments with different prompts, and using more on-paper submissions.
As individual schools within Montgomery County started looking for alternatives to Turnitin.com, it was clear that other anti-plagiarism products were not as effective as this program.
“Turnitin has quite an inventory in which to check for plagiarism as many, many of the universities and many, many of the high schools from both the U.S. and Europe use it. It has spent years building the database of papers in which to compare submitted papers to. It is a classic example of ‘you get what you pay for,’” explained Sherwood Media Specialist Stephanie Flaherty.
However, if plagiarism is detected this school year, the consequences for the student are severe. According to the English Department’s grading policies, “All students are taught the principles of citing sources in MLA format through direct instruction, practice, assessment, and application. … Students who violate these citation principles commit an act of academic dishonesty. The teachers will have the discretion to allow the student to correct the citations or assign the student a 0 on the assignment depending on the circumstances of the violation. Students who turn in writing from another source and claim it as their own will earn a 0 on the assignment.”