AI use for non-English speaking students on scholarship essays

Each year our district sponsors scholarships and part of the process is to write essays for some of them. This year, one scholarship I am in charge of asked for students to write about a Shakespearean play and its connections with today's society. The students' names are redacted. One of the essays, after I ran it through, returned a 10% AI match. The other person I was reading essays with asked if it is possible that the 10% could be translation software used to write from the student's own language into English. When I asked turnitin experts if the translation software (such as Google Translate, etc.) would pick that up as AI work, they did say it was possible.

With it being a scholarship essay and not having a relationship with the student to understand their writing, this leaves us in a conundrum.  What is an acceptable AI score?  Is a student using translation software allowed because they are limited in their English skills but still want to excel?  There are no district policies with AI writing or academic integrity yet.  Although I suspect some may be coming....

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  •  Lisa LaBrake on the subject of acceptable AI scores, my feeling is that this should be like the Turnitin Similarity Index, in that there is no acceptable threshold and that all submissions should be viewed on a case-by-case basis. My colleague Karen Smith discusses this as in her recent blog post:

    "It is also important to remember that there is no one “right” or “target” score with the AI writing indicator, just like with a Similarity Score. Educators working directly with students are in the lead here, as they are best positioned to make these kinds of nuanced determinations, based on their in-depth knowledge of the students and assignment. For example, were students using AI to draft an introduction as a whole class activity to help get past the blank page or screen? Educators will need to acknowledge these distinctions when viewing the AI writing report and then can suggest a particular course of action, such as citing the AI-generated text to avoid the appearance of academic dishonesty."

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