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Cheating in high school and college

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Dear LA Teacher,

I teach American History at Taft High School. I’ve caught a few of my students cheating, but I’m sure there is more getting away with it. What can I do to catch the cheats and curb the habit?

History Teacher

Dear History Teacher,

Cheating, unfortunately, is part of life. We see it in our elected officials, public servants, athletes and even our teachers. Bill Clinton was impeached because he cheated on his wife. Lance Armstrong cheated during most of his illustrious cycling career, and teachers cheat by erasing wrong answers on state proficiency exams to bolster student scores. Kids see these cheating examples and figure they can get away with it at school.

According to Best College Reviews, 51% of students surveyed in a 2012 survey of 23,000 American students in charter, public, and private high schools, admitted to cheating on an exam one or more times during the past academic year. About 23% of surveyed students said they cheated at least once on a school test.

Here are ways they cheat:
1. Download papers from the Internet
2. Plagiarize text
3. Texting answers using a phone
4. Saving notes on a phone for reviewing during a text
5. Using smart phones to browse the Internet during an exam
6. Hiring someone to take an on-line course for them
7. Faking test scores and recommendation letters for college

Who are these cheaters? The are students from all demographics including athletes, high and low-GPA students, frat and sorority members, and more.

These students cheat for a variety of reasons including the desire to help a friend, academic pressure, lack of effort, and an attitude that says, “I’ll never use this anyway, so it’s ok to cheat.”

Here is a list of things teachers can do in the classroom to reduce cheating:
1. Check student hands and arms for notes on exam day
2. Ban all electronic devices from the exam room
3. Monitor the exam room weaving in and out of the aisles during the test
4. Watch student faces and body language during the test
5. Use services in the Internet to check for plagiarism
6. Prepare new tests every year to avoid the possibility of answers online.
7. Create multiple versions of the same test without announcing it.

Parents can reduce cheating problems by setting the example at home. If mom and dad live honest lives the message is strongly sent to their kids.

Teachers and parents are the models our children emulate. Perhaps we can’t control what celebs, politicians, or civil servants do in the outside world, but we sure can model appropriate behavior at home and in the school. It’s our job to teach ethics and morality as well as the 4 R’s and good hygiene.

Best wishes,
LA Teacher

Have a question about home or school? Ask LA Teacher at writinghigh2009@gmail.com or visit his website.

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