The most equal opportunity for a student to be tested would be for that student to take the same test as everyone else, under equal conditions. Handschooling can accomplish exactly that by allowing each student in literally the whole world to take a specific test when it is convenient for that student using his or her individual device connected to the internet. Test-takers would be in different locations and circumstances, but they would be treated absolutely equally by the test as they interact with it online. A preppy in London, a student attending a “failing school” in Chicago, a slum kid in Mumbai, and a herder in Peru would be able to pass or fail the identical calculus test.
They will cheat! That is the knee jerk reaction to a global testing taken individually. Yet what is dismissed by the jerking knee is the kind of testing that would remove the quality of schools from the equation and allow universal uniform assessment of individual students. Because it is now assumed that cheating will happen unless there is human oversight, generally testing is done in person in a variety of locales, with hovering human monitors. The expense is huge, kids are tested by groups and classes, and equality is damaged. Cheating still happens in testing locations that are not perfectly monitored.
But it turns out that cheat-proof online testing might be very practical and far more foolproof than human live monitoring. Take the example of Professor Pritchard’s work in identifying homework cheaters. The use of computer algorithm monitoring and similar programed detection systems should/could naturally follow from the approach he has used, as described here from the Chronicle of Higher Education:
Enter David E. Pritchard, a physics professor who teaches introductory courses at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (when he’s not in his laboratory devising new ways to use lasers to reveal the curious behavior of supercooled atoms) [as shown in the photo at left].
Mr. Pritchard did detective work on his students worthy of a CSI episode. Because he uses an online homework system in his courses, he realized he could add a detection system to look for unusual behavior patterns. If a student took less than a minute to answer each of several complex questions and got them all right, for instance, the system flagged that as likely cheating. “Since one minute is insufficient time to read the problem and enter the several answers typically required, we infer that the quick-solver group is copying the answer from somewhere,” he wrote in a paper last month in the free online journal Physical Review Special Topics—Physics Education Research. . . .