But is it Really Cheating?

Ashlyn Dodson, Staff Writer

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Yes. A freshman sighs in relief as he finds the key to his biology homework, posted online by a school district he’s never heard of. It’s fine, he thinks, because he already knows the material; why do unnecessary work? He considers it “using his resources.” Cheating is no longer a wandering set of eyes during a difficult test. It is an app that solves math problems for you, a Quizlet with answers to last night’s homework, a text in a group chat with some of next period’s test questions. The art of cheating has comfortably adjusted to modern technology.

While technology is undoubtedly an educational asset, it has presented new challenges in the area of academic integrity. On one hand, technology has allowed teachers to be more thorough in monitoring plagiarism, with programs such as Turnitin.com that automatically check students’ work. Conversely, it has allowed students more tempting circumstances in which many fail to exercise better judgement.  

Parents, students, and teachers need to be having  open discussions about academic integrity. Most students know in a general sense what is and isn’t cheating, but there are still situations that need to be discussed. For example, not all students know the difference between working with a partner or group and just sharing answers. Even simple situations such as these, if continued throughout a student’s educational career, can affect what students actually learn.

With as prevalent a problem as cheating, one might think that Keller High School, a school with a belief statement that values “honesty and integrity,” would have elaborate rules in place to prevent dishonest behavior. However, one would be wrong. Beside the belief statement, there is nothing mentioning academic integrity on the KHS website. This seems to be a trend throughout Keller ISD. In fact, the only high school that does include information on plagiarism or cheating on it’s website is Central High. As far as district policy goes, the only mention of cheating, dishonesty, or academic integrity in the KISD Student Code of Conduct is a lonely bullet point under “Miscellaneous Offenses,” which states that students shall not “Cheat or copy the work of another.” Perhaps such a simple sentence would have sufficed in 1911, when Keller ISD was founded, but in today’s world, it is clearly lacking.

Today’s students, in a system that values 4.0 GPA’s more than it values actual education, can no longer appreciate the experience of exploring on their own. Most would rather spend ten minutes looking up the answer to their question than take five minutes to do it themselves, because they believe that making A’s is more important than makingand learning frommistakes. Unfortunately, this also a problem for educators. Few teachers today teach so their students can learn. Instead, they too are focused on numbers, STAAR performance, their students’ AP exam scores compared to other teachers’ class scores, or putting in enough grades to satisfy KISD policy. Teachers and students are so fixated on grades and scores that they forget those scores are supposed to be as reflection of what students learn. And although it doesn’t justify cheating, when looked at from this perspective, with a student vs. system approach, cheating seems almost understandable.

Cheating isn’t a problem that will disappear on its own. Students and educators alike need to be making a conscious effort to find why students are doing it and what will make them stop. But until steps are taken to prevent cheating (and as long as the internet still exists), it will persist.

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But is it Really Cheating?