Senators Probe Exam Monitoring Company That Won’t Give Students Pee Breaks

douglas murray
AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File

Senators are demanding answers from ExamSoft, an exam software company that has been widely criticized by students this year over privacy concerns and a set of bizarre rules. A student who took the bar exam using ExamSoft’s technology told reporters in October that he was forced to urinate in his pants due to the platform’s prohibition against bathroom breaks.

According to a report by Mashable, six members of the United States Senate are demanding answers from exam software company ExamSoft in a letter sent to the company this week.

The exam monitoring platform provided by ExamSoft records students through their webcam. Students are told that the software uses artificial intelligence to track eye movements. The analysis of the eye movements is then used to detect cheating.

The letter, which was signed by Senators Richard Blumenthal, Ron Wyden, Tina Smith, Chris Van Hollen, Cory A. Booker, and Elizabeth Warren, calls on ExamSoft to explain how it plans to respond to concerns from students about privacy, facial recognition technology, accessibility, and reliability.

The senators noted several examples in which students with disabilities were falsely flagged by the software for cheating. “Just as alarmingly, students have reported egregious situations in which monitoring features have flagged individuals with disabilities or physical conditions, such as tic disorders or muscle reflexes, as suspicious, and in which virtual ‘proctors’ failed to accommodate students’ disabilities.  One student using Proctorio was concerned that her tic disorder would be flagged by the software as cheating, since it happens frequently in high stress situations, like testing,” the letter reads.

To make matters worse, students using the platform are not permitted to use the bathroom during exam sessions. Law.com reported in October that a student that took the bar exam in Pennsylvania was forced to urinate on himself during an exam session. Although bar examinees are permitted to use the bathroom during in-person administrations of the exam, bathroom breaks are strictly prohibited by ExamSoft.

“I’m not embarrassed about it, because I didn’t have a choice,” the examinee said in a comment at the time. “One of the rules was, ‘If you left the view of the camera, you would fail.’ I was put in this position where I had to make this barbaric choice to either piss myself or fail the most important exam I’m ever going to take in my life. It’s an odd position to put an applicant in.”

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