Students steal a glance across the aisle, carry scaled down cheat sheets under their desks and plug formulas into graphing calculators before sitting down to take a test. They scratch verb conjugations into their desk and develop intricate hand motions to show that number four on a chemistry test is answer choice C. They spend all night on Facebook instead of studying, and come in the next day begging the kid in front of them to position his or her Scantron within easy sight. These are just some of the ways students get away with illegally bumping up their grades on tests and quizzes.
No matter what the reason, Stuyvesant students seem to be especially willing to cheat. The motivation to cheat isn’t always based on average teenage laziness. Students sometimes cheat because they have too much work to find the time to study. Excessive pressure to do well may also be a factor.
Considering this, we can look to parents as a part of the problem. “I know plenty of [Stuyvesant] people whose parents expect the very best in them. My cousin, who went to Stuy years ago, had a father who would yell at him whenever he didn’t get 100 on a test,” junior Tasso Bountouvas said. While there isn’t any justification for cheating your way through a class, excessive pressure from parents with high expectations just adds fuel to the fire. Parents need to understand that academics aren’t everything.
Reasons for cheating can also originate in the classroom. Within the same subject, teaching styles and test difficulty can vary from widely. Someone working extra hard in a class with difficult tests may end up with a worse grade than someone who is slacking off in an easy class. Even worse is when a teacher gives impossibly hard tests that include material not covered in class. Such frustrations can lead to cheating. To remedy these situations, the administration should focus on hiring more competent teachers.
In the end, we can’t fully blame parents, teachers or the administration. Many different things provoke cheating, but it’s ultimately the student’s decision. However, it is extremely unlikely that students will suddenly understand the depravity of cheating and put an end to it.
Therefore, teachers should become more intolerant of cheating. They should enforce harsher punishments, and they should look to teachers who already have strict anti-cheating policies as examples. These policies include automatically failing students on tests they get caught cheating on, failing students in the whole course or forcing students to meet with the dean. Cheating can go on your permanent academic record. Think about having to explain that on your college applications.
Some teachers also try to catch cheating after a test. Some photocopy students’ individual answer sheets before handing them back. Others ask students to circle their answers in pen before handing in their tests. A few check all their students’ Scantrons by hand before handing them back. Some teachers pace the aisles and tell students to keep their eyes on their own papers. Many provide a few different test forms to be distributed in alternating columns. It’s important that more teachers adopt these methods to decrease the number of people who escape punishment.
It’s extremely idealistic to assume that people will listen when they’re told that cheating is wrong. People cheat for many reasons, some of which are slightly understandable, but all of which are unjustifiable. The administration should be encouraged to crack down on cheating.