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American schools lax on cheating

The Sept. 1 edition of Education Week had a provocative commentary, “All my favorite students cheat,” by high school teacher Christopher L. Doyle. He and I agree that cheating is rife, but we don’t agree on what causes that.

He thinks students are protecting themselves against widespread insecurity in a declining America. I think the larger problem is that teachers so love and trust their students that the teachers become easy marks.

America used to be tough on cheaters. Before World War II, miscreants could be suspended, expelled or caned. Schools went soft in the 1960s, and although we have little data, cheating probably increased. In a 1995 survey by “Who’s Who Among American High School Students,” 76 percent of high-schoolers with at least B averages said they had cheated at least once. In suburban, upper-middle-class, high-achieving schools, such as the place Doyle still teaches or many Washington area schools, cheating is still common.

Some students want their schools to do something about it. In the mid-1990s, I served on a citizen-teacher-student governance committee at Scarsdale High School in Westchester County, N.Y. When our chairman asked whether anyone had any personal complaints about the school, our two student members raised a topic we had never addressed: cheating. Non-cheating students, they said, felt abused by lax enforcement. They blamed teachers for not proctoring their own exams. Some teachers, they said, left the room for the hour to sip coffee in the teachers lounge.

These were not state tests or the SAT, which require proctoring, but the regular course exams that would determine students’ report card grades. The Scarsdale assistant principal told me many teachers assumed their students would never cheat because they were such great kids.

Such deep belief in the inner goodness of American teens is not easily challenged. Erich Martel, a history teacher at Wilson High School in the District, was recently involuntarily transferred to another school in part because he used anti-cheating devices such as printing tests with fonts too small to be read from the next desk. His principal complained he was “creating an expectation that students will cheat” and ought to have more faith in the character of his pupils.

Schools here and throughout the country have struggled for years with the issue but made little progress. Attitudes differ on what constitutes cheating. In one survey of students at New Trier High School in Winnetka, Ill., 97 percent said looking at another student’s exam was wrong. Only 46 percent, however, had the same view about asking someone in an earlier class what was on the test. Teachers I know encourage team projects, so their students ask why they can’t share their homework results. Multiple-choice tests are easier to cheat on, but they take less time to grade than essay exams. Essays are more difficult to copy.

Some surveys suggest pressure to get admitted to a favorite college can cause cheating, but so can adolescent sloth. One teacher at a New York school I visited said how proud she was that her students never took those illegal shortcuts. Hearing that, a student journalist quickly found two good students who had cheated on each of the teacher’s last three exams. The reporter asked them why. “It was just easier,” one said.

Despite the cheating, learning continues. Students have to know something to do well on heavily proctored exams, such as the SAT or Advanced Placement tests. Perhaps if we took cheating more seriously on exams that affect high school grades, our students would not cheat and would have more respect for us.

Read Jay's blog every day, and follow all of The Post's Education coverage on Twitter, Facebook and our Education Web page.


By Jay Mathews  | September 29, 2010; 8:00 PM ET
Categories:  Local Living  | Tags:  Christopher L. Doyle, Education Week, cheating gotten worse since the 1960s, student blame teachers for being lax, student cheating  
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Comments

As a current college student, I've had this discussion a number of time with my friends. I don't think I have found one person who hasn't cheated one way or another (high school and/or college). On the other hand, I have trouble ignoring moral standards to that degree and would feel guilty indefinitely for any attempt to cheat (even to the extent that I intentionally kept a wrong answer after glancing to a classmate's test).

Last semester, I got into a heated argument with my roommates about a large group of students in their class working together to cheat on homework. The weekly web-based assignments provided the correct answers once submitted, so on a rotating basis one person would actually try to complete the assignment, and the rest of the class would use the answer key provided by that person.

I disagree with you that the cause is teachers who trust their students too much. I think it comes down to the fact that they either don't know it's happening or just don't care enough to take the effort to combat it.

Of my peers and of high school students with whom I've spoken, there is a general consensus that everyone cheats and that it is a necessity for whatever next step (college admission, scholarship, job, etc.). I'm not sure what motivated students to refrain from cheating in the past, but this definitely doesn't exist today. No one feels that it is any way wrong on a moral level; it has become so routine that it is just a fact of life.

I have gotten extremely frustrated to know that I am putting in the work to earn what I get while others might be getting higher grades with less effort. It really just isn't fair. But since cheating has become the norm, no one feels any reason not to partake.

My pleas to my roommates last year for reconsideration fell on deaf ears, as I tried to rationalize that I felt my own degree was being devalued as they and others could get theirs by doing practically nothing. I felt as if I might as well saved the time and money and printed my own. Unfortunately, they saw the cheating as the only way to get the work done for a class that wasn't the GPA-boosting easy A they expected (though the work was still minimal).

It's going to take a lot more than a few teachers to crack down on cheating to see any change. The problem is so widespread that it is ingrained in education today. In an ultra-competitive society where everyone has to be the best, the rules students go by are not the same as those posted on classroom walls.

***************

By the way, your link to Doyle's commentary doesn't work. It should be http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2010/09/01/02doyle_ep.h30.html

Is there any way to see his article without paying?

Posted by: wpreader789 | September 29, 2010 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Jay, but the link to the commentary is broken.

Posted by: aceproffitt | September 30, 2010 12:17 AM | Report abuse

" I think the larger problem is that teachers so love and trust their students that the teachers become easy marks. "

You have got to be kidding me.

First, let's clarify:

Copying homework is not cheating. So if that's all that someone's doing, they aren't cheating.

Plagiarism is something entirely different. Yes, it's cheating, but it's a form of forgery.

Traditionally, what we meant by "cheating" is copying someone else's answers on a test.

No matter, though. Teachers love and trust their students!!! Hahahahahah.

That's just really, really dumb, Jay.

We bust our posteriors to try and find a way to stop kids from cheating on tests. Top kids don't cheat, as a rule. Low level kids cheat every chance they get. The only way to stop them is create huge amounts of work by creating two or three versions of a test, as well as split your class up into two populations and monitor them both while taking the test.

Teachers just love and trust their students so much. I mean, please.

OF course, you do, as usual, blame the teachers.

Posted by: Cal_Lanier | September 30, 2010 12:26 AM | Report abuse

I went to honor code schools and we saw consequences for the people who violated it from detentions to suspensions to expulsions -- including one girl who was expelled the week before graduation for lying. She still got her diploma, but wasn't allowed to participate in the ceremonies and the diploma didn't have the school's name on it, just the county's.

My father counteracts cheating by having three different versions of any test he gives and by requiring essays rather than multiple choice questions. The results can be amusing.

Posted by: Fabrisse | September 30, 2010 12:28 AM | Report abuse

Please consider this: How can our expectations of those who teach and those who are tought be any different from what we, in America, are know to do ? Every day of our lives. For cheating is what we read about every day in the Washington Post! So, if you want change, then the place to start is with ourselves. The improvement in our kids, and their future, and our school system across the country will then follow. And here's the kicker ... it's free !

Posted by: jralger | September 30, 2010 5:31 AM | Report abuse

Cheating in American schools is only bested by the adult role models that cheat everyday in our society. That includes, CEOs, politicians, print 'journalists', 'news' outlets, military personnel, 'religious' leaders, etc. Maybe students are simply emulating those who rise to fame and fortune in the US.

Posted by: 12345leavemealone | September 30, 2010 8:16 AM | Report abuse

to wpreader789: why did you not turn them in? I'll bet that by not doing so you're also in violation of your college's honor code.

I think a large amount of the cheating comes from the reluctance of teachers and administrators to prosecute it. Helicopter parents must make those people's lives hell if they do try to call the precious little children out on their behavior. One time in high school 28 students out of 30 turned in the exact same assignment to our teacher (I was apparently left out of the loop). Clearly there was rampant cheating going on, but all I remember happening was that the teacher yelled at them. Great lesson, huh?

And to Cal_Lanier: of course copying homework is cheating. Using somebody's else's work and representing it as your own is always cheating. Using access to materials other students are denied is cheating. How do people not understand that?

I have zero tolerance for cheating, mostly because I am entering a profession where dishonesty can kill people (medicine). I say make an example out of cheaters, and you'll see a lot less of it going on. (That, and make sure the students can't see how politicians and businessmen in this country get away with what is essentially cheating everyday.)

Posted by: VA129 | September 30, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

May be we should put FBI agents in every classroom. Sorry, I guess that won't work.

Posted by: richard36 | September 30, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse

But if they don't learn to cheat in school, how are they gonna make it in politics?

Posted by: snowbucks | September 30, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

My thanks to wpreader789 and Cal for excellent personal comments. I am going to look for a way to get back into this issue because I think it is mostly avoided, both in schools and in the media. Anyone else, particularly present or recent students, who want to weigh in will be most welcome. I will try to fix that link. Sadly, Edweek does charge for access to some features for non-subscribers, and I have to acknowledge that I am on the Edweek board and have approved that policy. But let me see if I can get a waiver to it and post the full column here.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | September 30, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Copying homework is not cheating - what alternate universe does Mr. Lanier live in? When I taught in HS [39 years, retired 2007], whenever I caught homework cheating, I would return the papers with a '0' for both students and a note, "See ____ [the other students name]". There was usually no challenge - they knew they had cheated and been caught. Once in a while, one student would admit that he/she had copied but if I wasn't satisfied that he/she had obtained the paper to cheat from w/o the other student's knowledge, still no credit for either.
I am under no illusions that I caught every instance of cheating, particularly on MC parts of tests [which always had short answer and essay questions,] but I firmly believe that the fact that I dealt firmly with those I did catch helped to reduce cheating.
At the same time, it is important to let a student[s] know that one instance of cheating is not the end of the world and use the situation for learning a lesson more important than content: accepting responsibility for ones actions.

Gee, I wonder how the DC IMPACT system would grade me when I made a student 'sad' by holding them accountable? I'm also damned glad I didn't work for the Wilson HS principal, who seems to be living in Never-Never Land!

Posted by: aspnh | September 30, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

I agree with aspnh. Copying homework most definitely IS cheating. It's factored into the final grade for most teachers and it takes time to complete. On the other hand, working on a homework assignment in a group would not be considered cheating in my opinion.

Posted by: forgetthis | September 30, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

We have kids who adopt the succeed-at-all-costs attitudes of much of American society. Teachers who look the other way are rewarding them for being conventionally "clever" and unscrupulous (not original/unique or diligent).

I actually remember kids getting angry at me (and turning fairly nasty) for not sharing my hard work with them. Heather Schw**t, I'm talking to you.

I applaud teachers like "aspnh" who aggressively go after these junior American fraudsters. Sadly, they will still in all likelihood grow up to be as ruthlessly successful as their scheming parents, thanks in part to teachers who are too soft to stand up to these congenital liars.

Posted by: FedUpInMoCo | September 30, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

For those who want to see the full Edweek commentary: It is now up, just click on the word commentary in the first paragragh. My friends at Edweek explained to me, in the gentle way they have with technophobe geezers, that there was a link to the full column, I just didn't know how to find it.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | September 30, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

"...and although we have little data, cheating probably increased."
Realizing you have a lot of knowledge in this area, I'm still not sure it's a valid assertion.

Will reiterate the 1 response (so far) to Cal_Lanier's post:
"Copying homework is not cheating. So if that's all that someone's doing, they aren't cheating."
really?! if that's not some perverse moral justification, I don't know what is.
As VA129 said, "Using somebody's else's work and representing it as your own is always cheating. Using access to materials other students are denied is cheating. How do people not understand that?"

"Plagiarism is something entirely different. Yes, it's cheating, but it's a form of forgery."
How is "copying homework" different from plagiarism? (isn't that a version of plagiarism?)

M-W says "Cheating" = a: to practice fraud or trickery b : to violate rules dishonestly

"Top kids don't cheat, as a rule. Low level kids cheat every chance they get."
Jay's anecdotal evidence might disprove this.
I, for one, wholeheartedly disagree with this "rule". I doubt there is any evidence that proves this and think cheating is probably as pervasive in high achievers as it is in low ones.

My experience:
I tried to cheat once. In 7th grade. (calculator watch on a math test).
As a graduate student, I reported a fellow graduate student's plagiarism (it was a teacher directed, peer-review situation on a yet-to-be submitted assignment; I think they failed that assignment but don't know the complete outcome)

I will agree that teachers/administrators bear some of the blame, but it's also disappointing that students can't be held to a higher standard.
If a student witnesses or knows about cheating, there should be no repercussions for that student to report it. (maybe create an anonymous outlet?)
Maybe schools need administrators trained in conflict resolution?

Posted by: robjdisc | September 30, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Jay, there is an article about honor codes in the St. Olaf magazine that just came out. While it is more focused on colleges than high schools, you may find it of interest.

Posted by: Thinking123 | September 30, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

My experiences at the college level lead me to believe that cheating among students exists because college administrators are not serious about ending it. While they subscribe to sites such as 'turnitin' and some monitor sites that do homework such as 'studentoffortune' for their own college name and course numbers, they put most of the onus to limit cheating on the classroom teachers. Though we can accomplish that, in my opinion, the manner in which that is accomplished is not supported by administrators.

The easiest way to limit cheating is for most of the grade to be based on in-class performance, because the classroom can be tightly controlled. That means heavy grade weight on in-class exams and light grade weight on homework assignments and papers. When I do that, the students howl LOUD and LONG!

The administrators listen to that howling because they view students as customers to be satisfied (as opposed to taught and evaluated). The mandates come down to limit in-class exams, have more take-home exams and group papers, and put more grade weight on homework assignments and papers, and less on exams.

I am only surprised that more employers are not giving their own on-site exams as part of the interview process. I have heard of many computer science graduates, in the face of writing a potential employer's on-site exam, having to actually learn the material they faked learning in college.

Posted by: Edwin2 | September 30, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Another problem is that administrators, at the high school level at least, aren't willing to accuse someone of cheating unless the proof is beyond all doubt. We had a meeting on the first day of school for teachers where we were told that we could only withhold credit for the portion of the assignment we knew a student cheated on. For example, if we only saw Johnny looking at Susie's paper while he was on question #21, we could only withhold credit on that question (ignoring the fact that Johnny probably looked over a couple of times while I was focusing on another part of the room). A colleague at another school in the same jurisdiction relayed a story to me where the principal would not discipline the student for plagiarism since the student had copied less than 50% of the paper from another source. We want to root out the unethical behavior, but our hands are simply tied by administrators who are afraid of parents.

Posted by: Rob63 | September 30, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Attitudes differ on what constitutes cheating. In one survey of students at New Trier High School in Winnetka, Ill., 97 percent said looking at another student’s exam was wrong. Only 46 percent, however, had the same view about asking someone in an earlier class what was on the test.
.........................
This is the usual with Jay Mathews.

When I taught in college I made the mistake of giving the same tests to multiple classes.

I did not consider that the students of the later class who asked questions of students who had taken the test as cheating. I recognized I had made a mistake and should have had separate tests for the classes.

Yes during the 1960's there might have been more cheating in schools and grade inflation. Students had a real motivation to do well in colleges since failing grades might mean a ticket to South Vietnam.

Posted by: bsallamack | September 30, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

We bust our posteriors to try and find a way to stop kids from cheating on tests. Top kids don't cheat, as a rule. Low level kids cheat every chance they get.

Posted by: Cal_Lanier
.......................
Change the seating on tests. The low level kids should be seated all together. There would not be much point in them cheating off of each other.

I love when I asked students on a test to give an eight digit random number and two students came up with the same number and 90's on the test. This was my first test as a teacher and I had made the mistake of the same test for multiple classes. One of the father's even offered a bribe.

Posted by: bsallamack | September 30, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

A reason for the lax enforcement is that schools are loathe to punish students by any means that could be reported to a state authority. A rule that says, "on the third offense of academic dishonesty, a recommendation for retention or suspension may occur" is not possible because the school will receive a negative outcome for punishing a student. An administrator will just tell a teacher to "deal with it yourself" but they can't be put out of class or school. If a teacher gives a student a failing grade on a test and a parent makes a scene to an administrator, the administrator will most likely direct the teacher to provide a make up test.

On a personal note, at my high school, there was a book report buying/selling ring. Students could buy book reports from previous years and submit them as their own. Once this ring was discovered, the teachers only lowered the overall grades of each participating student by 5%. This was not enough to cause any of the students to fail--or even change their letter grade. This occured despite book reports accounting for 25% of the total grade. Students were even offered extra credit, which was not close to the level of a book report, to bring their grades back.

Posted by: HistTeach1 | September 30, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Of course since Jay Mathews is such a fan of local standardized testing and teacher accountability the reality is that teachers should use their in class tests for preparation for maximum cheating on the high stake tests.

Teachers should try different seating patterns to allow for the most effective amount of cheating by pairing the low performers with the students that will pass. If the configuration allows low and there are a lack of students that will pass low performing students can be seated behind and to the right and left of a student that will pass. Seating is important and it should be effectively used.

Teachers should train students to not answer questions that they are unsure of since this will allow no erasures when the teacher fills in the answer.

The blackboard could contain cheat information that was accidentally not erased.

Hand out to students index cards with cheat information and tell them that these are study aids.

Display during in class tests a total lack of attention so students will understand that they will not be caught even if passing answer sheets.

Make sure that all the low performers have their eyes checked.

Fear is an excellent motivator. Before in class tests students should be told that they will be given extra work if they fail these tests. Of course follow through until the students understand that they are expected to cheat.

Posted by: bsallamack | September 30, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

These comments are exploring so much territory. Thanks, and also thanks to Thinking123 for the reading suggestion.
And for Cal, is it possible the faster kids are better at hiding their cheating from you?

Posted by: Jay Mathews | September 30, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Well, the teacher who was involuntarily transferred because he tried to prevent cheating highlights a widespread problem in our nation's public schools: keep test scores up by whatever means. Federal funds are at stake. Actual learning, however, has diminished. Incoming college freshmen are often not prepared and need remedial courses. Graduating often takes more than four years. The basic problem is that public schools do not enforce standards of student behavior. Whether it's class disruption, cheating, violence, drug use and dealing, or disregard for the authority of teachers; it is not a learning environment. Instead, it's a go-with-the-flow, get away with what you can environment. Teachers don't want to rock the boat. God forbid someone's self-esteem is hurt.

Posted by: allamer1 | September 30, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

I forgot cheat sheets dropped on the floor are also effective.

Another method would be pairing children of poor performer(s) with a good performer. Use rewards for the good performer to overcome the initial reluctance and resentment of being paired with non performers. This will encourage the good performer to actually actively assist in cheating to help the poor performer. Praise the good performer of the improvement of the bad performer(s) after his/her effort. Do this especially after an in class test. The good performers will get the message.

Also tell students that teachers know students are cheating when students have the exactly the same answers on their test papers. This will inform the students what to avoid in cheating.

Teachers should remember that there will be serious consequences if fired based upon test results. In many cases this will mean the end of your career in teaching since I do not think there are many schools seeking teachers that have been fired for being ineffective.

I am not a public school teacher but I am sure that public school teachers can think up even more inventive methods to encourage cheating and keep their jobs.

Remember teachers now are expected to do what ever it takes to get up test scores.

Posted by: bsallamack | September 30, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Valerie Strauss has an article on:
The strange media coverage of Obama's education policies.

Far more interesting.

Posted by: bsallamack | September 30, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

First, we tell students that they must do their own work. Then we assign them group work and tell them that it's important to work in groups. Then we work hard to make plagiarism sound like a crime, but we have to deploy applications like turnitin to detect it. And then, at the college level, we often leave enforcement of the honor code to students who may or may not see serving on an honor board as a power trip.
It's no surprise there are problems. These are likely to continue until schools sort themselves out.

Posted by: amstphd | September 30, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Since no evidence exists that alpha-numeric grades lead to better learning outcomes for students--and there is evidence that rewards and punishments can decrease a student's intrinsic motivation, we should just stop giving grades. That way, all cheaters would merely be cheating themselves out of discovering what they truly know and truly do not know.

Education is about acquiring knowledge, learning skills, and analyzing and synthesizing information. It has nothing to do with grades and ranks. The sooner these things are removed from our schools, the sooner students--and teachers--can focus on the important things.

Posted by: thesilverback | September 30, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

This is not very politically correct to say, but the greater the percentage of Asian students, the bigger the problem with cheating. Asian cultures are collectivist and as a result, cheating isn't seen as morally wrong. And since it's nearly universal among Asian students, the white kids now mostly do it too. It's a tough situation- either do the right thing and put yourself at a major disadvantage, or jump on the cheating bandwagon.

Probably the best solution would be to make homework optional and base grading on open-book exams that force the student to actually apply the information rather than simply regurgitate it from memory or a cheat sheet.

Posted by: CrimsonWife | September 30, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

With the emphasis on test scores, almost EVERYONE is cheating.

When my city won the Broad award, I asked one of the teachers what she did. This was her answer:

"We put a smart kid in the center and pushed the desks together." I have no idea if that was a joke or not, but I'm certain of one thing: educators are definitely looking the other way and possibly even encouraging cheating, as in the case of the administrator who transferred the teacher who tried to discourage it.

We are in a very bad period right now, but I'm optimistic the situation will improve in the near future.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | September 30, 2010 7:53 PM | Report abuse

"And to Cal_Lanier: of course copying homework is cheating. Using somebody's else's work and representing it as your own is always cheating. Using access to materials other students are denied is cheating. How do people not understand that?"

Oh, please. Do you know what kind of homework kids "copy"? Fifty math problems. Science questions. Vocab questions.

Homework of that sort is just a checkmark on a piece of paper, that teachers use to decide effort. The kids know it's not real. They know they have to actually know the material by the time the test comes around. But they were too busy writing their essay on Hamlet the night before--really writing it, not copying it off the Internet--and they forgot about the math homework. So rather than get a ding for a meaningless assignment that, if missed enough, will knock their grade from an A to a B, they copy out work they know how to do from a friend who did it--the friend knowing that the places will be reversed at some point.

Anyone who considers that cheating, of the same moral failing as passing off knowledge or material as their own, is warped beyond all repair. Again, it's just a check mark. The real issue is why math and science teachers count homework as a meaningful part of the grade, allowing students who don't know the material to get a better grade through brownie points, while penalizing kids who know the material but don't do the busy work.

"And for Cal, is it possible the faster kids are better at hiding their cheating from you?"

Um, no. It's pretty easy to read a cheated test. There's no work, or they are making the same mistake.

Plus, your premise is all wrong. Low achieving kids who cheat only find enough answers to get a passing grade, so they finish more quickly than the high achieving kids who actually do the work.

Don't get me wrong--I'm sure high achieving kids cheat in terms of plagiarism. But they aren't cheating on math tests, for the most part.

Posted by: Cal_Lanier | September 30, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

CrimsonWife,

Yes, tho' far from politically correct, I believe this to be true as well.

Posted by: shadwell1 | September 30, 2010 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Don't get me wrong--I'm sure high achieving kids cheat in terms of plagiarism. But they aren't cheating on math tests, for the most part.
----------------------------------------
Really? You probably don't hang around enough high-achieving kids. I had a high achieving student open my desk drawer while I was out in the hall hustling kids to class and take out a unit test. He then proceeded to make copies which 23 of 28 students used on the test. I only caught them because one girl was honest enough to tell me, and one problem got changed and I got a ton of answers to the problem that I had replaced.

I actually agree with you about the homework issue. I give it so that the kids will master the concept (independent practice). I would be fine making it 0% of my grade, but I've been told by my administration that this is unacceptable because then kids don't get "credit" for doing homework.

Posted by: Wyrm1 | October 1, 2010 6:54 AM | Report abuse

" He then proceeded to make copies which 23 of 28 students used on the test."

Okay, I agree that happens--although not with me. But would you put that in the same category as copying from one another during the test?

Don't they have to show their work during your test? I make it pretty clear what's going to be on my test--there are few surprises. How is knowing what's going to be on the test help them do anything except study up on material to know how to do the problem?

I agree, however, that this is cheating. I just can't see the purpose unless you want to surprise your kids on the test and give them something they wouldn't know how to do unless they knew about it in advance.

Posted by: Cal_Lanier | October 1, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Of course, and quite frankly the advantage was fairly small (there shouldn't have been any surprises). My point is merely that high achieving kids cheat. I catch at least 5-10 per year, and I hear them discussing it.

In this case, the kids got together and put the answers in their graphing calculators (it was an Honors Alg II class). It is true that I needed to see work, but having the answers makes doing the work a lot easier.

Posted by: Wyrm1 | October 1, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Let's look at another angle. How many of us have signed up for a college course listed as being taught by Professor X, only to find his graduate assistant was teaching the course while Professor X did his research. Theoretically, the listed professor is advising and guiding the grad assistant--but how many of us know of cases where the professor wasn't even on campus most of the term? I once queried a professor on a factual error in a book he had written; his explanation was that his graduate students had done part of the research and he had simply not caught that error. True, in his acknowledgements he did thank all his graduate students for their research. That made it legal--but what's the difference between having someone do your research for your book and having someone do the research and studying for your term paper?

I'm not justifying cheating--it's still lying and plagiarism and all the rest to claim someone's work as your own. But the main difference seems to be that students get higher grades for less work and professors get more money for less work.

Posted by: sideswiththekids | October 2, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

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