Virtual school exacerbates cheating culture


Illustrated by Nora Talbott

Throughout my four years at WJ, cheating has always been a part of the culture. Cases range from copying homework to plagiarizing essays. There is a major problem with cheating because students do not fear the consequences. These problems have increased due to virtual school’s limitations.

Cheating occurs in schools because of social pressures and expectations. There is pressure from a student’s parents to get good grades. Students often compare test scores and grades to gain validation which adds more pressure to excel. A student’s best is no longer good enough. If they try their best on an assignment but don’t get a good grade, it is a failure. These high social pressures are the causes of many cases of cheating.

Recently, students across the county took the MAP-R and MAP-M tests. These standardized tests were extremely easy to cheat on as cameras were the only security measure taken. Using a second computer or a hidden phone could easily be used to look up vocabulary words or math formulas. A test designed to check the effectiveness of virtual school last spring was completely invalidated.

Our school system is, in a way, functioning at a similar if not worse level. I have only taken one test in AP Statistics so far this school year and it used the same testing protocols as the MAP testing. My AP Statistics teacher proctored the test by monitoring the student’s cameras. At the start of class, everyone was required to turn on their camera. This was continuously monitored by my teacher throughout the period. However, with 30 students, the teacher can’t possibly see everyone at the same time. This method of proctoring opens up many opportunities to cheat. As long as a teacher can’t see the different ways students are cheating, they cannot punish them.

Punishment in our school for cheating is minimal. Typically if a student gets caught cheating they will simply receive a zero on the assignment. There will be no administrative action taken against the student. This allows for the continuation of cheating. At colleges, cheating is much more uncommon because of the feared repercussions. Cheating in college can lead to class failure, suspension or expulsion. Our school should implement these actions even for the smallest acts of cheating. This will cause the consequences to be more feared, therefore reducing the amount of cheating in classes.

The increase of cheating in school raises the GPAs of many students which leads to grade inflation. However, similar to the saying “if everything is great, then nothing is great,” student’s GPAs will have the same effect. If everyone’s GPA is high and considered nationally “good” then in turn will make no one’s GPA look special. This could be a particular problem for rising juniors. Junior year grades are very important, and to have grades that are basically irrelevant could heavily affect college admissions.
Virtual school is effective in teaching students to critically think and find creative solutions to problems. Unfortunately, students are simply using those very skills to find innovative ways to cheat. Students should be using their critical thinking skills for more productive things; the only way to accomplish this is to make students fear the consequences of cheating.