The other pandemic: Cheating

There’s an epidemic that has blown up at ZIS and is exponentially rising in infectiousness. Almost all of the student body has caught the disease at one point or another, but they never seem to be able to develop antibodies to fight it. 

The disease is a desire for academic cheating. 

Generally, cheating has been exponentially growing since the start of the 21st century, 

There’s no doubt, though, that cheating seems to pay off for a lot of students. Researchers polled students at Fordham university and found that the average frequent academic cheater boasted a 3.41 gpa, whereas students that don’t cheat had an average gpa of 2.85. That’s an unbelievably significant 0.6 point difference between the two, an enormous game changer. 

At ZIS, and many other schools, grade boundaries aren’t necessarily determined by a fixed percentage of points, but rather how you did in comparison to the rest of the class. Such a system presents a serious problem to non-cheaters. They might not be able to get the grade they deserve because students who take the test with predetermined knowledge about it attain better scores than they should be able to, distorting the grade boundaries. This leads to students having to choose between being at a clear disadvantage or succumbing to the temptation of cheating. 

Cheating on online tests was never easier during the coronavirus-induced lockdowns. Teachers frantically tried to curb the abundance of cheating that happened, but how could they? When the students are the ones with control over their surroundings, creating a fair testing environment proves near impossible.

Phones were smartly put right out of view of the camera during tests

“When they made us type our names in a little box to ‘sign’ the honor code, it just felt trivial and I don’t think anyone took it seriously” one student remarked. 

A study by Marshall University concluded that students were four times as likely to cheat when taking an online test compared to in person, which goes to show the magnitude of the issue. 

This inability to crackdown on online cheating led students to carry on the habits when in person school returned. But with less resources to their disposal, new methods had to be used. And so, an elaborate network of cheating emerged.

Because teachers often would have the same test for all their classes, students would tell their friends what was on the test in exchange for information on tests in other subjects where they might not be the person to have the test first. Some people would even be able to quickly take a picture of the test to ensure that no mistakes were made. 

One student claimed that teachers “know about the cheating that’s going on and choose to do nothing about it.”

However, Mr. Lobland, a math teacher at the Upper School, might be an outlier. 

With math being one of the most vulnerable subjects to cheating, because of how linear it can be, Lobland has been silently trying to prevent cheating. 

Through staying vigilant during test taking as well as writing multiple versions of a test, he’s tried to limit the impact of getting answers from a friend. 

But Mr. Lobland does admit that his capacity to take these measures is limited. 

“Writing three or four different versions of a test is very time consuming. Sometimes for quizzes, even occasionally tests, there’s just not enough time to make multiple copies.”

So while cheating might be a serious problem at ZIS, there is some hope that it might see a decline in the future.

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