A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Saturday, June 06, 2009

The Cheating Culture, part III

Apparently, the best we can take from this story is that eventually even people who are really good at cheating get caught:
An Ohio school district says it uncovered a cheating scheme so pervasive that it had to cancel graduation ceremonies for its 60 seniors — but will still mail their diplomas. A senior at Centerburg High School accessed teachers' computers, found tests, printed them and distributed them to classmates, administrators said. Graduation was canceled because so many seniors either cheated or knew about the cheating but failed to report it, said officials of the Centerburg School District.

Superintendent Dorothy Holden said the district had to take a stand and let students know that cheating can't be tolerated.
"I am alarmed that our kids can think that in society it's OK to cheat, it's a big prank, it's OK to turn away and not be a whistle-blower, not come forth," Holden said. The district says it has identified a student who apparently accessed shared file folders on teachers' computers.

Officials believe the cheating involved at least five tests in a senior World Studies class dating to early January. One of the tests quizzed students on Aztec Indian history. Teachers had suspicions about some higher-than-expected grades during the semester, Holden said. The cheating unraveled when a student discovered a congratulatory note to the perpetrator on a school computer Tuesday and gave it to Principal John Morgan. Administrators learned Friday that the cheating plot may have involved underclassmen, as well.

Holden said so many students are involved that it was impossible "to separate the wheat from the chaff" in terms of deciding who could graduate. Instead, all students will be mailed their diplomas. "We're not going to put that type of honor out there knowing that many of you are walking through there and you cheated, you lied, you denied," Holden said.

Some parents angry about the cancellation are organizing an unofficial graduation ceremony. Jeanette Lamb, whose son is a senior at the school, asked the Centerburg School Board to reconsider its decision to cancel graduation. The board declined.
"At that point I did tell them that commencement would continue, it will be at the park, I will put it together and their presence wasn't welcome," Lamb told WTVN radio in Columbus. Lamb said parents and members of the community have offered help.
Centerburg High, with about 400 students, is one of the state's top schools, with an "excellent" academic rating last year, according to the state Department of Education.

Last year, the school had a 99 percent graduation rate, compared to a statewide rate of 87 percent. Some students admit they cheated; others said they knew of the cheating but didn't participate; and others said they had the tests but didn't use them, Holden said.

One student who used the test still failed.

I can't tell you how many times I have gotten the "but everybody does it," shrug-your-shoulders response from parents when I have contacted them to inform them of their child's cheating on an assignment or quiz. I even got that response from an administrator once-- who then later tried to act so stunned when a teacher candidate had someone hack into the system and stole interview questions. In this story, I particularly like the student who STILL FAILED. For the past few years, I have given out actual test questions as the study guide for many of my tests-- and still have kids who can't be bothered to look up the answers. Then they ask why I don't curve my results.

You can't win.

But in a culture which celebrates people who get away with moral lapses, how can we be shocked when our students engage in the same behavior?



At 6/6/09, 10:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They should not mail the diplomas they need to fail the students. Who really cares about the ceremony they are boring wastes of time.

At 6/6/09, 5:35 PM, Blogger Magical Mystical Teacher said...

Um, why not make all the students retake a new test? No pass, no graduate. I agree with previous poster: The kids should have been failed!

At 6/6/09, 7:33 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Well, if I put that question to some of my administrators, I bet I would hear something along the lines of this: "Oh, they don't have time to study, and they've already moved on, and so it wouldn't be fair...."

Like cheating is "fair." Like "fair" means anything. But in most minds, fairness is more important than justice or integrity.

At 6/7/09, 1:34 PM, Anonymous michelle said...

Why was this allowed to happen in the first place? Let's look at the core problem behind this!

Graduation Stoles

At 6/7/09, 6:18 PM, Blogger Fred said...

I worry about some teachers and the fact that every single test is on their flash drive. A few have been lost, and one wonders, are the teachers developing new tests, or hoping the drive hasn't been stolen, just lost?

At 6/8/09, 1:02 PM, Blogger teachergirl said...

At Prep's school this past week, two were expelled, seven were dismissed and eight were convicted by the Honor Council for cheating. Period. Nine upperclassmen were shown the door because cheating is lying and stealing and lying and stealing are not tolerated by society.

At 6/8/09, 5:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But what about the kids who weren't cheating? Even if there is only one. They REALLY got it. They really passed the tests and they don't get to graduate.

At 6/9/09, 10:21 AM, Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

Teachergirl, I wish more of us could (and would) handle cheating like that. I'm not sure you're on the money, however, when you indicate that lying and cheating are not tolerated by our society. I think they are, and I think that's a big part of the problem. Apparently the parents are going to put on their own graduation ceremony for the kids. Obviously, they tolerate it. Nevertheless, I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiments.

At 6/9/09, 10:38 AM, Anonymous siobhan curious said...

In a class discussion once I used "cheating on a test" as an example of "dishonesty," and all the students burst out laughing. When I read here about parents getting angry because there are consequences for rampant cheating, it helps me understand why. More and more, there is an attitude that academic cheating is fine as long as you don't get caught. There is no consciousness that this is a moral or character issue. If parents don't support administrations in clamping down on such behavior, students will continue to think that cheating is normal behaviour.

At 6/9/09, 6:09 PM, Blogger OKP said...

Follow-up: http://rateyourstudents.blogspot.com/2009/06/parents-throw-graduation-for-ohio-high.html

Hardly what they deserve.

At 6/9/09, 11:05 PM, Blogger Mister Teacher said...

Well just look at major league baseball, where cheating is practically encouraged.

Where's the guy who says that cheating shouldn't garner any kind of academic penalty??

And the kid who used the test and STILL failed? Sheesh.

At 6/10/09, 6:57 AM, Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

"And the kid who used the test and STILL failed? Sheesh."

I've got a better one than that. When I was in elementary school, some kid copied me without me knowing it, but he got caught. He copied my name.

At 6/10/09, 7:49 AM, Anonymous Exurban Mom said...

I live in Ohio, and you should have seen the hysterical video on the nightly news. These kids acted like it was the end of the world for them. I know that many kids were probably innocent, and they deserved a graduation ceremony, but it is a lesson they will hopefully remember for the rest of their lives: cheaters get caught, you should turn in a cheater if you see one.

One can hope, anyway....

At 6/16/09, 8:36 AM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Anonymous, they all got their diplomas-- they just didn't get a ceremony. They did graduate, just to be clear.

Oh, Dennis. That's worse than the kid who was Hispanic who cheated off little, blonde, Okie me in Spanish class in 7th grade. I mean-- really!!! (And by the way, when I reported him to the teacher, she didn't believe me nor would she allow me to move so that he wasn't behind me.)

I cannot stand cheating or lying. And people who will be dishonest academically are not to be trusted with anything.


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