50th Edition, Education

Academic dishonesty still exists at South

By Denebola
Published: February 2011

By Michael Fuchs, Volume 50
February 15, 2011

Cheating—all students have seen it, most can say they’ve been tempted to do it, and some may confess to having done it.  Regardless of whether students agree with the principle of cheating, many will not deny that taking a peek at a peer’s test can translate into short-term academic success.  Science teacher Jordan Kraus, however, sees cheating differently.
“I don’t think we’re doing students a favor by looking the other way,” Kraus said.  Kraus, like many teachers, has handled several instances of cheating during her career at South.
To illustrate, Kraus gives an example.  “I had a student a year ago in a class where I gave flexible tests,” Kraus said.  “She asked me ‘Could I take it the following week.’  I said sure.”
Kraus delves into the story further.  “Unbenounced to her, I came into some information.  Turns out she orchestrated this with a boy.  He gave [the prompts] to her.  All of them.  She went home and practiced them,” Kraus said. “She came in calm as a cucumber… When given a chance [to admit to cheating], she didn’t do so.”
The girl in question dropped out of the class, thereby removing it from her transcript.  The boy chose to stay.  In Kraus’s class, any student who helps a peer cheat is as guilty as whoever cheated.  Hence, the boy who assisted the female culprit would have, under normal circumstances, received a punishment.
In this case, however, Kraus made an exception.  “I couldn’t go through with it.  The young man… clearly had a crush on her,” Kraus said.  “Each case has to be looked at individually.”
Math teacher Charles Rooney has also seen cheating but has never encountered a case as severe as that of Kraus.  “There is a tension between wanting students to collaborate and students just copying off each other,” Rooney said.      Kraus thinks that there is no consistent definition of what cheating is. “If you talk to students they have a different idea of what cheating is.”
That said, while students may not see cheating like an administrator, most will agree that it presents unfair advantages.  Senior Campbell Rogers offers her definition.  “I think cheating is any instance when a student does something that clearly puts them at a strict advantage from the rest of the class, or that involves somehow using information from other students.”
Junior Charlie Temkin gives some examples of cheating.  “Sharing a test while taking the test or if you are talking about the test to someone who has yet to take it.  Also, of course stealing a test from a teacher, but I think that only happens in movies.”
Kraus worries that many students who witness cheating will choose to not report it.  We have a culture that says there is something wrong with reporting other peoples ill behaviors,” Kraus said.
When asked the question “Would you turn in a student who cheated?” Rogers said, “truthfully, probably not.”
“If the teacher finds out and asks me as a witness I wouldn’t deny it, but I also wouldn’t talk to a teacher about it if I saw it,” says Rogers.
“Although I don’t support cheating, I probably wouldn’t say anything unless I saw it happening with the same person cheating on multiple occasions,” Temkin said.  “It’s not fair for anyone to get by not studying and working hard when everyone else does.”
If Rooney sees a student cheat, he, like many teachers, will report the student.  “If I were convinced that cheating had taken place, I would report the student to his housemaster and give the student a zero on that test or quiz,” Rooney said.
Kraus, however, sees a loophole in the current school policy. “One of the policies states that there is no punishment for the first infraction.  If there is a second punishment they can be suspended.  How many times do you think it takes for a student to get caught?  By the time it takes for a person to get caught, it becomes a pattern of behavior,” Kraus said.
Unfortunately, with present policies in place, combined with extreme academic pressure, cheating at South will most likely endure.

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