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Grades hacked at Ballard High School

Posted by Geeky Swedes on April 28th, 2011

Ballard High School is one of three schools affected by stolen teacher passwords. According to KIRO 7, the school district is aware of someone stealing the passwords and changing grades at Ballard, Ingraham and Sealth, “however, all the schools and teachers are at risk,” according to an email written by the district IT staff that was sent to KIRO. According to the email, “the hackers plugged key logger devices into computer USB ports that capture everything entered by the keyboard.”

KIRO has more here.

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21 reader comments so far ↓

  • 1 Guest // Apr 29, 2011 at 1:43 am

    haha yeah right, nobody hacked any teachers. teachers have a habit of getting up and leaving the class room for 10 minutes to make copies. I’ve seen countless kids run up to the teachers computer as they leave for the bathroom, it takes them 2 seconds to change a single test grade on a spread sheet to pass the class. with each teacher dealing with 200+ kids they cant remember individual scores.
    of course the adult world assumes everything is HAX, but the Seattle school system should instead be investigating incompetent teachers that aren’t securing their workstations.

  • 2 Guest // Apr 29, 2011 at 2:05 am

    in the video interview, one of the interviewed teacher states that “The breach was limited to something called the Easy Grade Pro system, my understanding it that does not give them access to the entire computer system, it just gives them access to the teachers individual grade system”
    She is correct, the easy grade pro system is the equivalent to the teacher’s grading clip board, its the screen they most often have open on their computers. It is a localized database that could not be accessed by an outside log in, or “hacker”. And most students would not go through the process of stealing a password when many teachers are willing to leave it open.

    “Now so far the school have no evidence that grades were actually changed”
    because the students were likley changing an individual grade, and there are no recorded logs of changes to the spreadsheet.

    my advice- have change logs. thats all you need. students ARE changing grades, all you need is a new program that records every change to the spreadsheet. it would be easy to have alerts for every grade that is changed after its initial entry.

  • 3 Guest // Apr 29, 2011 at 4:33 am

    Have you been in high school recently? Or had a kid in high school in the past 5 years? Grades are constantly being changed on Easy Grade Pro. Turn in an assignment late, teachers change the grade. Make corrections on a test, the grade gets changed. The teacher puts a grade in incorrectly, student shows assignment and the grade gets changed.

    On average, teachers have 160 students, that’s a lot of change logs to go through to find a couple bad seeds.

    TL;DR This idea isn’t a good solution. A better solution is for teachers to be more responsible and log out of their accounts more regularly.

  • 4 Guest // Apr 29, 2011 at 6:05 am

    i am currently in one of the schools in question- so yes, i am seeing this exact problem in motion. teachers are already advised to keep their workstation safe, but not all of these teachers are tech savvy. an older teacher at my school decided to use the password “mathisfun” and once a student randomly guessed it, it was passed along to everyone.
    most grades are not changed constantly by teachers, this is a SEATTLE PUBLIC SCHOOLS, nearly everything is pass/fail. teachers treat easy grade pro as their red pen and grading tables.

    i am bewildered that such a large data system has no tracking of changes. currently a teacher cant tell if, when, and who changed the grade.asking them to look for changed grades is asking them to recall from memory whether or not the students current grade is the one they assigned. If easy grade pro already had change logs, they could easily confirm suspicions. but currently they don’t have any actual evidence that any grades were changed, they assume, but cant prove.
    but a simple data change log would report every change in the tables with a date and time, so if the teacher was ever suspicious of a certain grade they could look at the history, and if they know they were not entering grades in first period (most teachers enter grades during their prep period or after school) they can prove the grade was changed.
    most teachers also grade in bursts, they take a stack of papers and enter all 30 grades within an hour. this makes a consistent log of 30 consecutive assignments with the exact title. if all grades are entered by the 30s, every day, and suddenly there is one change to a 100 point test- it would stand out like a sore thumb.

    and the logs could be analyzed simply by a newer program, imagine if each teacher was presented daily, on login, with an overview of grade changes sorted by assignment for the previous day
    New grades for assignment A:30
    Changed grades for assignment B:7
    Changed grades for Final Exam:1

    Also keep in mind that teenagers are opportunists.if they bombed a giant test and have their overall grade drop to an E, they can either accept the failure and retake the class, or simply change the grade. to a student a single test can mean the difference to getting into the UW or not, so they will camp out the teachers computer and wait until the perfect moment. a watchful teenager can notice patterns throughout the year, and all it takes is the teacher forgetting to log out a single time. The opportunistic teenager could wait for weeks for the perfect moment to change a test grade if their entire future is weighed on it.
    teachers have been told to keep their work stations secure since they first signed their terms of use agreement – its just obviously not working.

  • 5 Guest // Apr 29, 2011 at 6:06 am

    I am a Junior at Ballard. Something nobody expects is teachers giving students their passwords. LA Teacher (if you want to call her a teacher) Jeanne Reader just lets kids use her personal computer with easy grade pro open, while she is in the classroom. A guy smoked a joint INSIDE her classroom last year but that is a separate matter. Marketing teacher, Jill Zawatski also has been known to give students her password. This password allows students to access Easy Grade Pro from any computer in the school. It also allows students to access the Source (online grade database) from any computer with internet. A teacher’s source account can find the grades for any student in the school, allowing the student with the password to invade the privacy of any student in the school.

  • 6 Guest // Apr 29, 2011 at 6:45 am

    theres some confusion here.
    a teachers computer password can let students access their computer account, but easy grade pro can NOT be accessed from any other computer.
    it is NOT possible to log into a regular computer in a library, log into a teachers account, and open easy grade pro. easy grade pro is located ONLY on the teachers primary computer(s) which contain the program’s files. Easy grade pro also has a separate password from the computer accounts, so even if a teacher’s computer is on, you cant access easy grade pro unless they LEFT IT OPEN.

    teachers have different reasonings to giving out their passwords. most teachers of computer classes share their password to select trusted students so they can bypass the schools filter (the filter that filters the same pages for grades K-12). Bypassing the school’s filter is required to get anything helpful accomplished on the internet, as the district blocks every page that might offend a 5 year old.
    but their password still does not aid in grade changing, that can still only be accomplished through their main workstation(s). the only instance of grade changing is through that computer when the teacher isn’t paying attention.
    and yes- this means that even if students DID hack the teachers password, they would still have to wait for them to leave the room to change their grades.

  • 7 Camron // Apr 29, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    Straight out of Ferris Bueler’s Day Off

  • 8 Anonymous // Apr 29, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    Hey Guest

    Since you’re a stellar example of what Ballard High School turns out did you miss the day that they taught proper sentence structure and capitalization?

  • 9 TB // Apr 29, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    Well, he hacked his attendance. I think the Matthew Broderick comparison is really with “WarGames”.

  • 10 Guest // Apr 30, 2011 at 10:47 am

    AP student, what what?
    I’m not wasting my time on proper sentence structure and capitalization, its the internet. Don’t be pissed that I can think of more then one sentence to say. Silly adults thinking you understand the internet…

  • 11 Guest // Apr 30, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    Something you apparently haven’t learned is the difference between posting on a community forum and something like /b/.

  • 12 Guest // May 4, 2011 at 4:30 am

    usually people don’t pick apart comments on community sites, some of them actually enjoy knowing the truth instead of what the Media’s coverage of it is.
    I guess some of you just get little hard-ons from correcting people on the internet.

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