Eyes on Your Own Paper, Please

Meanwhile in Room 30…

After the 6th grade English test, two girls came up to my desk.

Girl 1: Can we talk to you?

Me: Sure.

Girl 1: We think you should know that X was cheating during the test.

Girl 2: And I’m a witness.

Girl 1: I was taught that if a boy is looking at you, he’s probably cheating.

Me: (dropping my head, trying not to laugh. I wasn’t ready for that.)

Girl 1: He made eye contact with me, and he was siting on the edge of his desk, stretching his neck trying to see my paper.

Girl 2: And I saw the whole thing, too.

Me: Did he get out of his seat?

Girl 2: No. He just kept looking back.

Girl 1: And stretching his neck. We wanted you to know so you can handle it appropriately.

Me: Thank you, ladies. I will definitely handle it appropriately.

The following is an excerpt from “What Can Be Done About Student Cheating?” By Tim Walker, neaToday, December 11, 2012 • 3:58PM

It’s not exactly breaking news that students cheat in school. Whether it’s the student who peeks at crib notes during a test or another who can’t keep his eyes from drifting over to a classmate’s paper – schools have always had to deal with cheaters on some level. But is student cheating merely a nuisance or has it become a serious problem?
NEA Today recently spoke with Dr. Denise Pope, senior lecturer at the Stanford University School of Education and co-founder of Challenge Success, an organization that works with schools and families to improve student well-being and engagement with learning. Challenge Success recently released a white paper about cheating in schools that delves into the reasons why student cheat, misconceptions around the issue and some successful preventive strategies.
How prevalent is student cheating?
Student cheating is very serious. According to many studies, in between 80 and 95 percent of high school students admitted to cheating at least once in the past year and 75 percent admitted to cheating four or more times. The research goes back 15 years but that’s the highest it’s ever been. In the mid-1990s, it was around 60 percent. Cheating happens in every school.

One bit of encouraging news is that the Josephson Institute of Ethics released a survey a couple of weeks ago found that students who had cheated on one exam in the past year dropped quite a bit. We might re-survey in the spring and hopefully find something similar but it could just be noise. Too soon to tell.

Who are the students who cheat?
You have the obvious example – students who are struggling and don’t understand the work. One of the big misconceptions, however, is that it is only these struggling students who cheat, when in fact studies show that high-achieving students cheat almost as much as other students.
We haven’t found that there are discernible gender differences. Many assume that boys are more likely to cheat than girls because they’re more competitive, but the research actually doesn’t support that. Cheating is also more likely as the student moves through the system so the problem is more common in middle and high school than in elementary.

What can teachers do?
There are a lot of individual strategies that teachers can take to stop cheating or catch cheating right before it happens, but we focus on a more a preventive course – creating a climate of caring in the classroom. Of course teachers care about kids, but students have to perceive it. Do you know the name of every child in your classroom? Do you know their interests, do you take the time to answer every question? If not, that’s not a climate of care and not a fertile ground for learning. We found that students who really believe they belong in the classroom and really feel teacher support are less likely to cheat.

How about parents?
Everybody has to be part of the solution. Parents can do a lot of what we ask of teachers – emphasize high standards for honesty, make it clear that cheating is unacceptable. Parents can help foster that sense of belonging in school by encouraging school activities and other ways to focus on the positive aspects of school.  Also, they should also think about changing how they talk about grades with their children – especially in the way parents compare their kids to how others do.

#iTeach #6thGradeMatters

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