Cheating becomes prevalent, the new norm (Video)


By Pranathi Chitta
Staff Writer


One snap is all it takes.

Then one text. Maybe some money exchanged as well. And just like that, almost all your friends have answers to a test that you know you did not do well on.

Although there have been many precautions put in place, Coppell High School students are still finding means to cheat, which includes copying answers on homework and taking pictures of a test and texting it to a friend in a different class.

“I think cheating is a big problem today,” AP Statistics teacher Michelle Zugaro said. “Technology has a big problem to do with it.”

On test and quiz days Zugaro’s students are required to place their phones in the calculator slots and can only get them back at the end of the class period.

“I know that grades have become so important,” Zugaro said. “The emphasis of grades causes the cheating to be so, so prevalent.”

With some parents pressuring students to be ranked at the top of their class and friends constantly competing with them, many students feel they have no other choice but to cheat.

“My parents put almost no pressure on me and I know I’m lucky in that respect,” senior Sajani Raja said. “My peers, on the other hand, like to put me on a pedestal for some reason, and sometimes that feels very restricting, like I can’t fail and I have to do better than everyone or they’ll rub it in my face. But that pressure has never, ever pushed me to think about cheating because honestly school is not about the grades to me.”

AP Biology teacher Jennifer Martin has experienced a wide variety of parents who make it difficult to convince that school is more than just grades.

“I tell parents that grades aren’t the motivating factor; that learning is the motivating factor for students,” Martin said. “Character is more than any grade. I had a parent tell me that character is not more than any grade. They want their child to be the most successful child at Coppell.”

Being a Coppell parent herself, Martin has not monitored her children much and is satisfied if they did the best they could.

“My parenting style as far as school goes was hands off,” Martin said. “For neither of my kids did I monitor with homework and studying. I would just be there for help. [My husband and I] wanted our kids to have that self motivation because we knew we couldn’t follow them to college and monitor them there.”

The emphasis on grades has been taking a toll on the motivation for learning, which has caused many students to rely on cheating.

“It’s a lot of people who understand the concepts but want a little edge just to raise their rank, which it the stupidest thing I have ever heard,” Raja said.

Raja, along with her schoolwork, participates in choir and classical Indian dance. She is currently preparing for her graduation dance, which takes up seven hours of her week as well as three hours per week for choir excluding the time she practices during school.

“There are days when I come home and I don’t have enough time to study physics but that doesn’t mean I’m going to cheat,” Raja said. “It’s wrong and it short changes all the people that put in more work for me and actually studied more than I did.”

While consequences such as detention and suspension are given to students who cheat by the administration at CHS, the consequences are quite different for private schools. At Greenhill School, a private school, an honors council makes the decision of the consequence.

“We are a school that has a honor code that students sign to uphold standards of school and unproctored tests,” Greenhill School Head of Upper Class Laura Ross said. “The code is a big part of the school’s identity.”

To identify and punish students who cheat, Greenhill has put an honor council together, which consists of three faculty representatives, three seniors, three juniors, three sophomores and three freshmen.

“When a teacher suspects cheating, like plagiarism, the dean and the student’s advisor meet with student to go before the honor council,” Ross said.

Students and faculty who are on the council are nominated by peers and other students, which is a great accomplishment.

“Being on the honors council is the greatest honor at the school since they are the ones who give presentations to the school so students can be aware of the consequences of cheating,” Ross said.

According to Ross, Greenhill staff feels like this system helps keep the incidences of cheating down and allows it to be a learning experience when someone gets caught.

“[An honors council] would diminish the cheating,” Martin said. “I think there’s an inconsistency from class to class that teachers do, which promotes cheating. I think having peers to say ‘this is not right’ would have a bigger influence than having adults saying ‘this is not right.’”

Martin is not the only person on campus to think that different teachers may influence cheating, but a few students think so as well.

“I feel like if teachers saw someone [cheating] they should just go after it,” junior Sid Vadduri said. “Teachers just give a couple warnings then turn a blank eye. When the teachers say something, it’s a fact, they don’t need evidence that a student cheated and teachers aren’t taking enough advantage of it.”

Ranked in the top five percent of his class, Vadduri participates in track, debate and programs in his free time. Even with all his activities, Vadduri manages to finish all his homework with some time left to himself.

“I manage my time properly, which is a great obstacle for a lot of people who cheat,” Vadduri said.

Vadduri considers encountering test answers online or from another source without knowing that it will be on the test is not cheating, however, searching up answers with dishonest intentions is cheating.

“The cheating that is going on is not my issue, so I don’t really care about it,” Vadduri said. “Cheating is going to hunt the cheaters in the back one day, so why should I try to catch the cheaters when I can focus on my studies?”

To minimize cheating, instead of looking at homework, which students could easily copy off other students, Martin gives quizzes to her students to check for understanding.

“I recommend having assignments that you cannot just copy from someone,” Ross said. “Teachers should incorporate more creative and diverse assignments.”

Although many students do not consider it cheating, in the eyes of many teachers, simply looking off another peer’s assignment, with their permission, is still cheating.

“Cheating starts with a matter of ethical conduct,” CHS principal Mike Jasso said. “[Cheating] is not acceptable. That compromises the integrity of what we do.”

If a student is cheating on a subject that they do not understand, Zugaro believes cheating will not help them understand it better.

“If you are cheating to get into a school you really don’t belong in, in the long run it’s really going to hurt you,” Zugaro said. “Be the best student you can be and the rest of it will fall in place.”