Teachers Lose Use of Helpful Software

by Ziv Golan ‘26

In recent years MCPS has seemingly taken a step away from utilizing instructional software to monitor students’ assignments and class work. In the 2022-23 school year MCPS stopped using popular anti-plagiarism software turnitin.com. The stated reason for cutting ties with the software company was a dispute with the company over student-staff privacy concerns. This trend of MCPS taking away instructional software continued this school year when on January 23 the MCPS Board of Education was informed by Stephanie Sheron, who serves as MCPS Chief of Strategic Initiatives, that the county had cut funding for the GoGuardian platform from the proposed 2024-25 school year budget.

This decision will reportedly save the county over $230,000 but will have much wider implications for both students and teachers at schools across the county. The decision won’t be finalized until the Board of Education finalizes the budget in the spring of this year.
Many teachers have expressed that without GoGuardian and other software that helps prevent students from cheating, the only way to truly make sure students are not cheating is for them to handwrite assignments. Some teachers have already been using paper for high-stakes assignments, such as in-class essays, and other teachers will explore this option more and more without the option of GoGuardian.

“GoGuardian is the program I will miss the most. While Chromebooks are useful, they also provide ample opportunity for student distraction. GoGuardian helped to limit that,” explained social studies teacher Scott Allen. “With it gone at the end of this year, I will no longer be able to assess students on virtual quizzes and tests, as I have no way to ensure test security. So assessments will have to be paper and pencil going forward.”

Although MCPS recognizes the effectiveness of GoGuardian as a classroom tool, Sheron has pointed to the fact that 60 percent of teachers do not use the platform. “Because other software, including Nearpod and PearDeck, and selected staff positions have already been eliminated from the budget for next year, there were no other software cuts to consider,” said Sheron.

“Unfortunately, we could not meet our required cut threshold without putting GoGuardian forward. Without this cut, we would impact technology refresh for student Chromebooks and staff laptops. We recognize the impact to some of our teachers and are looking for alternative solutions to help mitigate the impact of this reduction.”

Without turnitin.com and GoGuardian, teachers will have a much more difficult time helping students understand how to use technology responsibly and ethically in academic settings. This will make the job of the teachers who do regularly use GoGuardian more difficult. “This definitely will add responsibilities on the teacher to try and make sure students are learning and not using shortcuts that may leave them less prepared for exams and future responsibilities beyond high school,” said social studies teacher Michael King.