Cheating Epidemic Spreads Across LCPS

Written by Meghan Dunster, Rebecca Faletti, Maryam Khan

Some might call it an open secret. To others, it is an epidemic. To a few, however, it may be what their academic career depends on, for better or for worse. No matter what you call it, cheating is a very real fact of life at every level of education, and it cannot go ignored.

The recent advent of photo ID requirements at the testing lab and the drama regarding delayed SAT scores has revived the discussion about cheating at Woodgrove-what causes it, what it is, and what, if anything, can be done.

Student discussion peaked after the testing lab started to insist that students show a photo ID before being allowed to take their test. English department chair Dr. Chris Cuozzo says that the policy emerged after concerns of students taking tests for others.

“There was a pretty lively debate around that, because there were faculty members who felt like that was not the kind of climate we wanted to create, like, we’re tracking kids with e-hall passes and now we have to show photo IDs,” Cuozzo says.

Photo ID requirements are just one way students have been hearing more and more about cheating in recent months. Rumors flew regarding the delaying of Woodgrove SAT scores, which quickly became talk of cheating asweeks passed with no scores coming.

Counseling director Mrs. Geri Fiore claimed no cheating was involved. “That’s not true. . . Why the SAT scores were delayed was because the College Board did not send us all of the labels that they needed to send us,” Fiore says.

Even with the SAT allegations proving to be false, Woodgrove students claim cheating is alive and well.

Chart by Rebeeca Faletti

“I see kids sneak their phones in, write things on the back of their neck and move their hair [so other students can see]. I have also seen the ripped jeans strategy, used especially by girls,” says junior KJ Lewis. In this method, answers are written on the knee underneath the hole of the jeans.

“People tell other people the answers from the blocks before them, and some teachers don’t even watch, so you can write things on your forearm or pull out your phone.” claims junior Kyle Caylor.

Teachers’ responses to cheating can be as varied as their instructional styles. Science department chair Mrs. Kat Gemmer believes in a personalized approach to students who cheat, in the hopes of removing the motivation to do so in the first place.

“Students generally cheat because they’re not prepared,” says Gemmer. “Our first policy is to offer a lot of re-testing.”

Gemmer also focuses on the moral aspect of cheating. She appeals to students’ consciences and tries to guide them towards what they feel is right or wrong.

“I think the number one thing is to remind students that cheating ultimately hurts you as a student. It hurts who you are. . . It not only breaks my trust with that student, but it makes me question that teacher-student relationship,” Gemmer says.

Cheating methods have undergone significant change as technology has grown more and more powerful and pervasive. Where once students could cheat merely by looking over their neighbor’s shoulder, now the possibilities seem limitless.

“A student could walk out of a class, remember the last three questions on the test, and shoot them out to their friends who have it in the afternoon,” says assistant principal Tim Panagos.

Some teachers find it useful to differentiate between cheating on practice assessments and cheating on quizzes and tests. The methods and reasons for both are different, they say, and should be dealt with as such.

“The only way that I can really pin down cheating [on homework assignments] is by comparing and taking note of similarities between work. As for quizzes and tests, it’s just keeping an eye on what people are doing in the classroom, monitoring where people are looking,” says Social Studies teacher Mr. Richard Balas.

To others, the blame for cheating on tests and quizzes lays mostly on the student for doing it in the first place, but also on the inattentiveness of the teacher for creating an environment where students feel they can get away with it.

“Teachers need to be vigilant in their classrooms,” says Panagos. “If you’re going to not be engaged, then you leave the door open for students.”

Some question whether or not the problem of cheating will ever truly go away on its own.

“Kids don’t always say this, but the reality is sometimes like ‘I can’t get that grade, or I don’t want to put in the work I’d need to get that grade, so the easiest way to get that level of grade is by cheating,’” Cuozzo says.