Unfortunately it’s something that happens every year: students using a wide range of resources and tactics to give themselves unfair advantages on tests and assignments. Although it is safe to say that this will continue to occur, the method with which administration will punish this act has changed.
As of this school year, a new cheating policy was implemented that replaces a zero percent with disciplinary action as punishment for cheaters.
As taken from the CHS handbook, “academic dishonesty occurs when a student engages in any behavior or uses any unauthorized device (including but not limited to cell phones, calculators, and other electronic devices) which gives the student an unfair advantage or represents another person’s work as his/her own… The penalty for cheating will follow the Sequence of Disciplinary Procedure as outlined in the student handbook.”
This Sequence of Disciplinary Procedure, also taken from the updated CHS Handbook, begins with “discussion and counseling with classroom teacher,” resulting in either detention or parent contact. The next step is for the teacher to contact the student’s counselor, who will then refer the student to the Student Services Administrator. Ultimately these actions may result in detention or suspension for the student but never a zero percent; a policy that may lead to an increased leniency to cheating.
This change in cheating policy is a directly linked with the adjustment of Carmel High School’s grading policy. This new grading policy expresses a preference for administration to mete out zeros to students who “knew nothing, rather than did nothing.”
While this may be ideal to show that a student with an NHI (Not Handed In) might “know something,” a student who cheats is incapable of knowing right from wrong, a lack of intelligence that is clearly reflected with a zero percent. In fact, most cheaters may find that a zero makes a larger impact than a suspension.
Although students who cheat may be lazy, they also are demonstrating that grades matter to them enough to put in an effort to cheat the system. By substituting a zero percent in place of a test or large project that a student cheats on, a grade can drop as much as a letter grade.
For a cheater, this kind of consequence will have a lasting effect, both in memory and on his or her GPA. On the contrary, when the punishment is suspension, the student’s grade can remain virtually unharmed. In some cases, the ability to redo a test or large project can even be beneficial, resulting in more time to study and learn the material.
Ultimately, a student who cheats can turn out with a better grade than a student who took the time to learn the material, solely based on the amount of time spent on preparation.
But even as misbehaving students benefit from this policy change, teachers pay a price in comparison. By eliminating the previous zero policy, teacher’s responsibilities are multiplied.
For every cheating student, teachers will have to recreate tests and assignments for that student to retake.
In some cases, where cheating has become a group effort, it becomes even more of a hassle to deal with large groups of students.
Multiply this occurrence by however many classes a teacher has and the amount of time and effort to recreate and monitor the taking and completion of the new assignment increases.
For some teachers with multiple classes, this task can be a strenuous addition to an already busy schedule. As the workload amounts, it seems inevitable that more and more cheaters will slip through the cracks.
In a perfect world this concern for cheating could be dismissed, but if that were the case then there would be no cheating in the first place.
In reality, it is unfair to punish teachers for the actions of misbehaving students.
In the previous policy, students were the only ones who were negatively impacted by their actions, and adding more steps to the process only increases the chances of cheating incidents going unpunished.
The policy for punishment should accurately reflect the crime being committed and only punish the violator. Giving students the opportunity to repeatedly cheat but still improve their GPA is handing cheaters the perfect way to “cheat” the system. Students who are repeat offenders should be hit where it hurts the hardest: their grade cards.
Although suspension is an accurate way to deal with other forms of misbehavior, using it as repercussion for cheating is unnecessary and may not Grading offenses should be handled by grade deductions. That should be the first form of punishment, followed with suspension only if there are other factors that deem it necessary.