Published Mar. 8, 2023
By FLINT NACHBAR
Despite the school having consequences in place for academic dishonesty, many CHS students are not getting reprimanded for cheating.
The Carmel High School code of conduct policy states that students who submit work that is not the result of their own efforts are guilty of “academic dishonesty.” The policy lists numerous consequences for first offenders as well as repeated offenses, with it resulting in colleges being notified.
Furthermore, in a recent survey sent out to all CHS students, 72% out of 353 responses said that they were familiar with Carmel’s academic honesty policy, but nevertheless students of all grade levels admit to being dishonest.
“It’s hard to stay honest when I just don’t care about the topic,” one sophomore says. “At least for homework it’s really about saving time.”
The same survey reveals that 69% of students at the high school are regularly sending or receiving pictures of homework answers, most commonly in math. This is perhaps due to the fact that most math homework is done on handouts or is handwritten, making it convenient for students to send out pictures of their completed work, according to math teacher Steve Nacht.
One senior, who uses the homework to better grasp the content, says that although he completes the homework himself, he does not mind helping out other students who do not want to complete the homework on their own.
“I have no issue helping out my friends,” he says, “but I personally think that completing the homework is crucial to understanding the content we are learning.”
Teachers are aware of this problem, but it is hard for them to control what happens outside of their classroom.
Math teacher Dawn Hatch says that dishonest habits will hurt students in the long run.
“At some point it catches up with them, it’s kind of like that whole karma idea,” Hatch says. “If I catch them I grade them down, but eventually I’ll grade their test and the evidence will be right there.”
CHS administrators believe that it is dangerous for students to not understand the importance of academic honesty, especially with many colleges with no tolerance policies that get students expelled for plagiarizing work and cheating on tests. Assistant principal Craig Tuana speaks out about how the administration is supposed to handle cases where students were caught cheating, which includes notifying both parents and future colleges, although he feels like there are some cases that are handled internally by the teachers and are not reported directly to the administrators.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens on occasion,” Tuana says, “where teachers feel like it doesn’t need to be taken to that level where the administrators are involved.”
Some teachers acknowledge handling cases involving the academic honesty of students internally in their classrooms, as they say it may be a more effective approach, and 93% of the surveyed students say that they have never faced any repercussions from administrators for being caught cheating.
“It’s becoming the norm to be dishonest, which causes students to rationalize their actions,” AP Psychology teacher Nora Ward says. “As a teacher do I turn over students for being academically dishonest? The problem is that so many students don’t understand what that means.”
With over 85% of students saying that they consider themselves to be academically honest, a lack of understanding could be the problem.
“We don’t teach honesty, morals and values,” Ward says. “We assume kids come up here with those lessons in place.”
With such rampant dishonesty happening on campus, teachers are starting to shift their lessons to make it harder for students to cheat their way through classes.
“There is no benefit for cheating in any of my classes,” one junior says. “Most of my teachers post answers to homework anyways, and it just hurts me on tests.”
Shifting from multiple-choice tests to free-response essay questions has dampened students’ ability to find ways to maneuver through classes dishonestly.
“The great majority of classes I teach are structured so cheating has less of an impact on the overall grade,” history teacher Brent Silva says. “All the writing and free-response questions are all stuff that the students have studied, but they don’t know exactly what is on the test.”
Silva mentions that more teachers are making assignments into class work so that students cannot use the internet, resulting in work completed in a closed environment.
Language teachers have come across a different problem with the way they approach cheating in their classroom, with world language teacher Vanessa Gibaut saying that looking up words for a language class becomes a gray area.
“Sometimes you need to look up a word,” Gibaut says. “You’re not expected to know everything, but if you are given the skills and the vocabulary to complete it then it can be considered an unnecessary crutch.”