A poll administered to 730 students reveals that about 63% of CHS students say they have cheated at CHS. While this is more than half of the school, it is a drop from the 83% figure compiled from a Sandpiper poll in 2010.
While cheating on tests happens, more students admit to cheating on smaller assignments like homework or quizzes, and 40% of students admit to having already cheated in the 2013-14 school year. While some students say they are concerned about grades on homework, others find themselves too busy to complete assignments or say they just don’t take it seriously at all.
One sophomore boy says it is just high school and cheating on homework isn’t a big deal.
“Cheating on a test is bad,” the student argues. “But copying homework? Everyone does it.”
Even Geometry and AP Statistics teacher Dawn Hatch notices that students cheat more on homework than tests.
“I don’t notice [cheating] as much on tests as I have in the past,” Hatch says. “What I notice is kids, if they copy each other’s homework, they don’t view that as cheating, even though it kind of is.”
This phenomenon has led Hatch to make homework optional, so kids won’t get together and cheat. The idea of collaboration is also a gray area when it comes to cheating, and the definition of collaboration can vary between students and teachers.
“It’s collaboration if you are doing it together,” senior Lilly Young explains. “It’s not collaboration if you’re like, ‘Oh, let me have your homework,’ and leave and go do it. That’s cheating.”
Many teachers like Hatch have taken measures to prevent cheating, which may account for the drop in admitted academic dishonesty over the past three years. To curb cheating during tests, some teachers make multiple versions of tests, have students sit in different places around the room and collect cell phones.
Even with the precautions, some students still get creative with their cheating methods.
“Not as many people cheat off of others,” sophomore Ethan Miller observes, “as much as they just use other sheets of paper [to cheat].”
In order to try to stop cheating on exams altogether, AP U.S. History teacher Marc Stafford gives his students practice quizzes with test questions beforehand with the hope that students will use them to learn the material, not just memorize the answers.
“That only works as far as they don’t get the exact questions on the test in the order,” Stafford says. “The goal is…that if you have access to those questions, you use them to learn, and then you show me that you learn by taking the tests.”
The past two years, the AP World final exam has been compromised, leading to cheating cases that have needed to be addressed. The final test, a former AP exam released by College Board to teachers only, is supposed to be protected online, according to AP World History teacher Brent Silva. However, the test was leaked, and some students discovered it online beforehand.
Some may blame the teachers for using a test that could be found online, but Silva explains that an AP final is much more difficult to find than any other final.
“I know when I designed tests and finals as a college prep teacher I had a greater degree of freedom because I am creating the questions,” Silva notes. “Whereas the AP finals, we want them to be as close to the AP exam as possible because that [is the] greatest teaching tool for [students].”
One student who was caught cheating on a major exam last year says he is glad he was caught and faced consequences.
“It’s the best thing that has happened to me,” the student says. “Now I have no desire to cheat, even if it is just on homework.”
While cheating is still a problem, the numbers have dropped, and maybe the tables are turning.
“I don’t think it is rampant,” Hatch adds. “I think it is some individuals…sometimes you can kind of wonder when a kid gets a really low score on an AP test, and they aced all yours. You kinda wonder what was going on there.”
Despite the 20% decrease in admitted academic dishonesty, CHS Principal Rick Lopez is still not satisfied.
“Obviously, if 63% of our students admit that they have engaged in some form of academic dishonesty, that’s a high number,” Lopez says. “Compared to somebody who did some poll and came up with the 83%…63% sounds good, but it’s horrible that significantly more than half of our students admit to academic dishonesty, so obviously it is still something we have to work on.”