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Cheaters never prosper

ST. JOHN'S (CUP) –Recently, Newfoundland and Labrador’s largest school board brought in new classroom rules. The most controversial of these is that teachers are no longer able to give a zero on a test when a student has been caught cheating. Instead, they are to arrange a time for students to retake the exam. This new policy will most certainly enable cheating within the classroom.

Where is the benefit in this?

It is clearly not for the benefit of the teachers. There is such a diminution of the disciplinary action that can be used within a classroom. Any authority that the teacher once held is only further eroded by this new rule.

If a student knows that they are able to cheat on a test, and if caught will only have to redo the test later, what power does a teacher hold in telling students not to cheat in the first place? Yes, punishments such as suspensions are still valid. However, developmental psychology suggests that suspensions rarely work as a form of discipline and don’t usually benefit the student.

Aside from the classroom-management perspective, this new process could add hours to teachers’ personal schedules. If a student is caught cheating, consider the time spent rescheduling the test with the student, administration, and parents. Then there is the added time of re-creating a test. Put that together with the time it takes to administer the test, and there could be several hours added onto a teacher’s schedule for one student caught cheating on one test.    

Some say the rule was instated to accommodate those with different rates of learning than others. But is leniency on cheating the right way to go about addressing these differences?

More than ever, schools are working to accommodate students with specific educational needs, from special testing environments to pathway-learning levels. These are making and will continue to make the biggest differences in allowing all students to achieve at their own rate. Perhaps more should be done to enhance these areas of education if this is the problem the new policy aims to correct.

Furthermore, the policy is extended to assignments. Grades will not be reduced for late submission. How is this fair to the student who works to submit their assignments on time only to be surpassed by someone who decides to hand it in a week later for no good reason?

School is also designed to prepare children and young adults for the world ahead of them, including post-secondary education. At university, the academic standards state that cheating on an exam or plagiarizing in a paper will be met with an automatic zero and may be grounds for expulsion from the institution. Submission deadlines vary between professors, but usually include a deduction for late assignments. How can schools say they are preparing students for post-secondary education when the very logistics of assessment are not being matched?

This policy is only educating young people that, when it comes to unethical actions, you always get a second chance.

Kate Noseworthy
The Muse (Memorial University)

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