Teacher turns to tech to stop cheating

One California school district is trying to crack down on plagiarism by having students turn in their papers online.

Writing a term paper and thinking about borrowing one that already got someone else an A, or at least is geared to deliver a mere passing grade?

For some California high school students, that dodgy maneuver now means reckoning not just with the sharp (or tired) eyes of the teacher, but also the algorithms of a Web-based plagiarism sniffer.

San Mateo High School is trying out the services of Oakland-based Turnitin.com, according to a report from CBS station KOVR-TV in Sacramento. (Note: CNET News is a unit of CBS Interactive.) Students are asked to submit their essays online, and their work is then compared with what's on the Internet.

"It's a good way to kinda catch kids who use their brother's papers from previous years. That's the best resource. Or maybe someone had a similar assignment in another class," English teacher Nels Johnson told KOVR.

Colleges including the Cal State system have been using antiplagiarism tools for years, but high schools are just starting to use it, KOVR reports. How long San Mateo High uses Turnitin remains up in the air--it had to pay $9,000 for the service this year, and in a recession-weary economy, that may simply prove too pricey.

Local Video from CBS13 in Sacramento

About the author

Jonathan Skillings is managing editor of CNET News, based in the Boston bureau. He's been with CNET since 2000, after a decade in tech journalism at the IDG News Service, PC Week, and an AS/400 magazine. He's also been a soldier and a schoolteacher, and will always be a die-hard fan of jazz, the brassier the better.



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