How academic standards disappear

Jay Matthews:

A literature professor at a Washington-area college wasn’t surprised by my column last week on the terrible quality of college essays purchased on the Internet. She had suffered from the output of the paper mills and told me a story illustrating how bogus work sells even when it is bad.
One of her students wanted to raise his grade with extra-credit work. Because he had not understood a 19th-century novel that was key to her course, she said, she suggested that he “read a particular journal article and write a short summary/review of the author’s analysis.”
She thought this would be a plagiarism-proof assignment. She may have been right about that, but the essay she received had other flaws.
“It was clear to me that the writer of the submitted paper had read no more than two or three pages of the article, and although it was well-written, it did not really answer the assignment,” she said. “I suspected that the paper was custom-ordered and custom-written.”