Ink-free, 21st Century cheating

When I was in school, the kids who got busted for cheating on tests usually had smeared writing all over the insides of their hands. In this era, cheating is much neater — and, potentially, much easier. 

It’s also quite pervasive, according to a new report by Common Sense Media, a nonprofit that advocates a safe and sane use of media and entertainment.

Here are the key findings from a recent poll:

• 41% of teens say that storing notes on a cell phone to access during a test is a serious cheating offense, while 23% don’t think it’s cheating at all.
• 45% of teens say that texting friends about answers during tests is a serious cheating offense, while 20% say it’s not cheating at all.
• 76% of parents say that cell phone cheating happens at their teens’ schools, but only 3% believe their own teen has ever used a cell phone to cheat.
• Nearly two-thirds of students with cell phones use them during school, regardless of school policies against it.
• Teens with cell phones send 440 text messages a week and 110 a week while in the classroom.

You can find the whole report here. Does any of this surprise you? Teachers: Do you confiscate cell phones before tests? How often do you catch students texting answers to each other?

image from christyxcore’s photostream at flickr.com/creativecommons

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Nextset

    Big ado about nothing. In a test you have a proctor who may or may not be a teacher walking around the floor. In high-stakes testing you may have two or more proctors watching from different directions. There are clear rules, developed over time. If transgressions are noted the proctors may do anything from cautioning the student to taking the offending item for the balance of the exam to removing the student from the room and failing his or her exam. Simple, really.

    In the CA Bar exam there have been incidents from power failures to heart attacks in the room. Most people just kept on writing. Anyone caught cheating would not only fail the test, they’d be barred from entering the profession (or disbarred if discovered after admission) for life. Even failing to report someone else would likely cost you your license. High School isn’t the bar exam but some principles are universal. But not so for the lower classes and maybe that’s why certain kids are taught this isn’t a big deal.

    The only problem contemplated in this article is not enforcing anti-cheating measures. As long as everyone knows cheating is met with swift and sure terminating sanctions you just don’t have these problems. Bad schools will not do this.

    An Air Force Academy friend mentioned the motto “We do not lie, cheat or steal nor tolerate among us those that do.” – Our schools refuse to go there because they want to teach their students that you are expected to tolerate everything, because bad schools do, and bad people do (tolerate). And they’re not running a good school.

    The only confusion here is that some people keep thinking we are talking about a “real” school.

  • Gordon Danning

    Confiscate cell phones before tests? Sounds like a logistical nightmare. A better solution is to give tests that are not conducive to that sort of cheating – essays, tests that require students to show their work, etc. No multiple choice tests or very short answers. Heck, if cell phones get teachers to move towards better tests, maybe they are a blessing in disguise

  • Nextset

    High school kids should be capable of turning their phones off or to silent at the start of class. It’s good training for when they are taking plane flights for all those business meetings later in life. Some people need reminders – reminding can become a fun game. The whole idea is to train the kids for adult life (like in 12 to 24 months away).

    Persistent inability to live by rules is something that should be noted and the student told to expect a transfer to a different program – or just a flunking grade. It rarely comes to that over the minor things like the cellphone. But if it does, that’s the way the cookie crumbles. You can use that kid as an example for the others.

  • Mr. G

    If only there were something in the educational code that would allow schools to do something about this… too bad none of the adults in this district are willing to stand up to the kids.

    48901.5 (a) The governing board of each school district, or its designee, may regulate the possession or use of any electronic signaling device that operates through the transmission or receipt of radio waves, including, but not limited to, paging and signaling equipment, by pupils of the school district while the pupils are on campus, while attending school-sponsored activities, or while under the supervision and control of school district employees.

  • Nextset

    I don’t see the problem. This is just another “Deportment” thing where the public schools, unlike the private schools, refuse to teach deportment. So their products are unsocialized and less employable. If it’s a good school they enforce deportment rules. A bad school won’t.