THEN: Students test the limits of morality by finding new ways to get the answers.

Originally printed: November 17, 2000, By: Niki Stamps

Niki Stamps

The teenage trend that never goes out of style: cheating; it’s affecting classrooms everywhere. You are in your biology class and there is a huge exam you didn’t study for. Your grade depends on this exam, you do not pass the exam you do not class the class. The person sitting next to you knows all the answers and even the extra credit. What do you do?

According to a recent campus survey, students may opt to cheat. Nearly three out of four students admitted to cheating in general.

The survey polled 128 students in various grades and found out that 32 cheat because they did not study; 38 percent cheat because they don’t know the answer and 34 percent cheat to get a good grade. About 70 percent of students admitted to cheating in general.

“Teachers are way too lenient and do not get the clue that someone is cheating and everyone does not want to tattle on someone,”

said Harsangeet Randhawa, junior. Surprisingly, not too many people are getting caught. Only 25 percent of the students polled had been caught cheating but only 7 percent of those students said they had been punished. Students are not following the “honor code” and the teachers’ individual system of punishment is not threatening enough to keep students from cheating, from the information collected from our survey.

The district does not have a policy, and allows each school in the district to formulate its own policy.

According to the student planner, Woodcreek does not have a distinct policy on cheating; it is simply the honor code. While the survey suggests that there is a lot of cheating going on, the administration seems to think there is less because many teachers use projects for major class points instead of tests.

“Kids do not cheat as much on tests because there is so much work with projects now,” said Principal Christine Minero.

While all teachers have their own system of punishment for cheating, most have the same concepts. Most teachers will give students a zero on the assignment or test and will not allow any make-ups. Some teachers said that it depends on the situation and the assignment, and given that, may allow students to make up the test or assignment.

Woodshop teacher Gene Graves has a different approach in his system of punishment for cheating. Graves reports that he gives “full exposure of the cheater to the class at the time of infraction.” Also Graves calls “students in for a conference about cheating and how it is truly a deception that will ultimately cheat them out of life’s experiences.”

U.S. History teacher Gary Stringfellow said that Woodcreek’s classroom design and furniture was not advantageous for testing. The long tables and carousels and small classroom size, particularly in the portables “is terrible for test security and very hard to monitor. The large tables make confidentiality impossible. It is hard for a student to prevent others from seeing his work, even at a casual glance that did not start out being a cheat… Woodcreek needs a testing center!” he said.

The survey also revealed surprising insights into the morals associated with cheating.

Nearly 10 percent of the students felt that copying off someone’s test was not cheating. Also, many students feel that copying off someone else’s homework is not a form of cheating.

“Homework is studying for a test so you can do it with each other so you can know the stuff for the test,” said Tiffany Johnson, Junior.

Students feel that teachers are becoming more lenient when they give tests. Jilly Gomez, sophomore, commented,

“Teachers are trusting. They sometimes walk out of rooms when they give tests.”

More than half, 53 percent of the students polled, feel that cheating is morally wrong, leaving 47 percent of students saying that cheating is okay. This is upsetting to the non-cheaters.

“It’s unfair to cheat. They don’t deserve to get the same grade as me for the work that I did,” said Johnson.

Students use a variety of methods to get the answers they need from writing on hand, to sitting next to someone(who?) is smart, to whispering answers to each other. Students stated that they would put a piece of paper with the answers on it in their lap and cover it up with a sweatshirt or put their notes underneath their desk so the teacher cannot see. Students have also gone as fair as to use sign language and write the answer on a piece of paper and hold it up when the teacher is not looking.

Projects might seem tough to cheat on but students seem to find a way. Students said that simply changing the fonts on the projects get by teachers, or students have used older sibling’s projects.

Plagiarism, which is a form of cheating, is illegal. Passing off another’s thoughts or ideas as your own can result in severe punishment. In fact, if you plagiarize a copyrighted paper you can be prosecuted. At school, the English Department already agrees that the plagiarized work will end up as a zero and is contemplating a policy that would further punish plagiarists.

Until severe action is taken against cheating, it will continue to be a reoccurring issue in Woodcreek classrooms.