Emma Newman staff writer
Candice Anvari staff writer
Multiple students have been caught cheating on different classroom assignments in at least three separate instances
While the administration does not seem to be aware of the incidents, according to a poll of 102 students administered by Highlights, 15 percent of students claim they have been in a classroom where a widespread case of cheating took place in the last year alone. One of the incidents occurred in science teacher Emily Smith’s chemistry classroom in January, where a student illegally obtained access to a test and sent it to multiple other students. The school’s cheating policy states that if a student steals, buys or sells a test, the student can be suspended.
Smith views the incident in her classroom as a part of the major problem that is widespread cheating at the high school level.
“Cheating is a common phenomena at this school,” Smith said. “I think there is a subgroup of people who are under the impression that cheating is good. They think that’s the way to make it in life and they are wrong.”
In her case, when Smith was out on vacation, a student, who confessed to taking the photos, went into her classroom unsupervised and took photos of the test. The student then collaborated with another student to find a copy of the answer key, which they did not originally have access to, online. Smith viewed this course of events as a “deliberate act of dishonesty.”
The students then sent tests to several other students, although Smith is not sure how widespread the cheating was.
This type of cheating is more severe than everyday common cheating, which English teacher Jamie Marrs witnessed. She noticed that the most common type of cheating in her class is the copying of homework.
“I think a lot of students don’t see the copying of homework answers as cheating, which is problematic because generally teachers assign homework because they want students to grapple with it on their own at home,” Marrs said. “I think some students just see homework as busy work that they only need to complete for the points.”
A student in Katie Kessel’s Honors English class witnessed this type of cheating occur in the middle of September.
“There was a grammar assignment and there was a group chat where people sent the answers on it,” an unnamed student said. “A bunch of people had the same wrong answers, so [Kessel] figured it out and she got really mad.”
According to the unnamed student, Kessel first intended on involving administration, but she decided to give those who cheated a zero on the assignment and the students were told to write her an apology email. Kessel declined to comment about the incident.
Smith is also taking actions against the students who were involved, although she has not decided exactly what she plans to do, as well as making chemistry students from every period retake the exam.
“All the students had to retake the test because I couldn’t trust the results from the first test,” Smith said. “That entire test is invalidated now.”
Because of this precautionary measure, students were generally not happy about the incident and its consequences.
“They had to do more work,” Smith said. “They had to re-study material they thought they were done with, but they understand why it had to be [done]. People are frustrated and angry, but they’re angry at the people who cheated.”
Smith has since caught the person who took the photo, and she is also taking action against the teacher who published the answer key to the test online. Because this is a test designed for students, publishing the test booklet is illegal. Therefore, she is going to call the company who gave teachers the test to use in the classroom, which could potentially lead to a lawsuit.
As a result of the incident, Smith is also taking preventative measures to try to stop future classroom cheating. One of the new implemented changes is an addition of a phone caddy in the classroom, in which all students are required to keep their phones until the end of class.
Vice Principal Drew Stewart prefers that teachers handle this type of situation in the classroom before reaching out to administration, which is a policy that Marrs also follows in her own classroom.
“We always want things to start with the teacher and the student, so generally speaking, we would like the teacher to notify the student that they have this suspicion or the proof that this happened,” Stewart said.
This may be one of the reasons why, although there have been multiple cheating instances this year, Stewart has not noticed an increase in student cheating in comparison to previous years.
“That doesn’t mean that teachers aren’t dealing with it and handling it in [the classroom] with effects on student grades, but I do not feel like I have seen a lot more come through the main office,” Stewart said.
A cheating instance that was handled without administration’s interference occurred in Tim Briggs’ photography class. Briggs declined to speak on the matter, but an unnamed student in his class witnessed the cheating instance.
“People were using other people’s photo journals,” the unnamed student said. “He had a conversation with us and we all had to write a photo journal on paper, as a consequence, during class.”
When cheating scandals like this do in fact go to administration, specific students are only watched if they have a tendency to cheat.
“It would only be if a student is cheating over and over again and in multiple classes that we then start to look at what we’re going to do as a school to help that student so this stops continuing to happen,” Stewart said.
While administrative efforts may help, Smith thinks that what the school should focus on is the importance of studying to prevent students from distributing answers and thus losing the value of each lesson.
“It’s a very big problem,” Smith said. “The idea that you are helping in any way by giving information to other people about tests is complete nonsense and very problematic.”