How many times have you heard this coming out of students’ mouths: “Don’t worry, I’ll send you the test questions.” “Can I take a picture of that homework?” “Hey, cise me the answers.” Or, on the teachers’ side: “I find it a little suspicious that the Period 8 class did so much better than Period 3…”
The culture of academic dishonesty here is shameful and, frankly, counterproductive. The best way to solve this problem is with a Student Ethics Board. Just as many colleges and universities, the board would hear cases of students caught cheating and decide on the punishment, if any.
With exemplary students appointed by teachers, it will be ensured that this is not a way for students to excuse others from academic dishonesty. (Elected board members may feel a responsibility to let off other students easy, especially those who claim to have voted for them.)
Along with an anonymous student reporting system, a student-run but adult-supervised ethics board would help students see the benefits of practicing academic honesty as well as discourage them to do so for fear of consequences.
Cheating must be prevented because grades are meant to represent a student’s true knowledge of course material. Copying homework doesn’t give students a proper understanding of material, and although you can survive the class with a good grade if you cheat on the test or get the questions beforehand, you’re kidding yourself that you did well in the class.
Moreover, getting through the class without knowing the material leads to a whole host of other issues. For one, if and when you move on to the next level in the course flow e.g. Latin 1 to Latin 2 or Honors Pre-Calculus to AP Calculus BC, you will be failing there as a result of a lack of foundational knowledge and skills. Sure, keep on cheating, but consequences will become worse as you go on into college or keep getting caught, and you’ll struggle when you finally have to apply those skills whether in your career or everyday life.
Not to mention, students cheating are taking advantage of people who are actually doing the work, and those people are the ones who will have a better grasp on the material.
That isn’t to say that cheating is never understandable. It’s always wrong, but it can be understandable. This is where the Ethics Board comes in. It will be a great forum for students with extraordinary circumstances to get help and a second chance because students (as opposed to teachers) are more likely to be sympathetic to other students. Though not all infractions will simply be dismissed as a kid having a bad day, certain situations such as immense pressure from parents or trouble with mental health.
In order to provide fair and firm regulation on cheating, a Student Ethics Board must be instated to create a culture of academic honesty at this school.