Thursday, May 1, 2008

Your Cheatin' Heart

One sophomore girl, chatting with another, yesterday during class, about a recent Algebra test:

SG1: Have you taken the test yet?
SG2: No, I'm taking it tomorrow. Was it hard?
SG1: Not too bad. The difference of squares was on it, though.
SG2: I don't know that too well. Better study it tonight!
SG1: I've got a cheat sheet for that. Do you want it?
Intrepid Adviser (stands up suddenly, strides purposefully across the room, stops where the two girls are sitting): You did not just say that!
SG1: Huh?
Intrepid Adviser (holding out her hand): Give it to me.
SG1: Huh?
Intrepid Adviser (arm still outstretched): The cheat sheet. Give it to me now, please. (SG1 hands over miniscule, ragged corner of notebook paper, with a formula written neatly in teeny-tiny printing.)
SG1: (Adopts look of horror.) Are you going to tell my teacher?
Intrepid Adviser: What do you think?

We haven't e-mailed the Algebra teacher yet. We're still debating with ourselves. The fact is that cheating is rampant not only in OHHS, but throughout the country. And the old-fashioned "cheat sheet" is being eclipsed by more high-tech methods. Kidz taking pictures of tests with their cellphones, and sharing with their friends. Cherubs program forbidden formulas into their calculators and phones, and glance at them during tests. At OHHS, cheating has become so commonplace that most teachers collect electronic gadgets (cellphones, iPods, et. al.) from the kiddos as they come into the classroom prior to a test.

Students say they need good grades. Their parents will ground them, they won't get into a "competitive" college (whatever that means). Please take our poll. Should we turn Sophomore Girl 1 in to the Authorities?


Joel said...

It's a tough call here. I would probably tend to err on the side of caution, but be very careful with those two girls again in the future.

Melissa B. said...


We're leaning toward lenience in this case. Sophomore Girl 1 is so chagrined that we thwarted her cheating scheme that clemency seems the way to go.

Tara R. said...

Did SG1 use the cheat sheet, or did she just have it? The pressure to perform well in HS is tremendous, and often the homework load is unreal. Sometimes cheating seems like the only way to get it all done. If this was the first incident, maybe a warning is all that is needed. This is a tough call.

mybellringers said...

If she used it, I'd turn her in. Actually, I'd make her turn herself in to the teacher.

If she didn't use it yet, I'd devise some sort of punishment that would be enlightening so the lesson would be learned. You certainly don't want the lesson to be "next time don't get caught."

Because it begs the question… if they cheat on a test, then do they make up a quote? It's a slippery slope and the slide down isn't a good or fun one. There's more at stake then just that one math test.

JoSF said...

Why not turn the cheat-sheet episode into an assignment for the OHHS newspaper on what's up with cheating ? Get each staffer to interview 5 students and teachers each about the latest in high-tech student skulduggery and why, why, why this age-old practice persists. Might seem like obvious stuff, but getting students and teachers to vent surely will get people thinking anew about the bizarre cat-and-mouse cheating game. Me thinks pressures to excel have only increased since I graduated h.s. in 1976, prior to calculators and cell phones in the classroom. (I recall one dude scribbling test tips on the inside of his belt.) If students don't feel like they can score good grades legitimately on a h.s. test, how will that translate later in life in their decision making ? The win-and-any-cost mentality has become ingrained in politics and business. Of course, the most prominent examples now are the Iraq War, which was built on lying, and the mortgage foreclosure crisis, built on banks lying to consumers that sub-prime loans would be prob-free.

Melissa B. said...

Tara: SG1 did use the cheat sheet. Was going to speak with her further today, but she wasn't in class. Hear thru the grapevine, though, that we made her nervous. Since she's only 15, maybe that's enough?

Melissa B. said...

My Bellringers: You're right, too. If they'll cheat on a math test, can we believe the quotes for their newspaper/yearbook stories are real? We had an "incident" at OHHS last year during which a first-year newspaper boy made up an ENTIRE story, a la Janet Cooke, Stephen Glass, and Jason Blair. Of course, we dismissed him from the staff. We'll have to keep an EAGLE EYE on SG1!

Melissa B. said...

Josf: We like your idea A LOT! We'll get crackin' on assigning that story to SG1 ASAP! We're about your age, and remember all kinds of skullduggery vis-a-vis cheating, but the grade-grubbing was not anywhere near as rampant as it is now. When we started at OHHS in 1994, the big cheating scandal was the boyz who scribbled answers inside the brim of their ball caps. So, of course, OHHS banned hats in school. As technology has morphed, we've banned all personal electronic gizmos, too, but you'd never know it from the rampant use/abuse of them in hallways and classrooms!

Clix said...

*wave* If you'd be willing to lend a hand to a journalism n00b, I'm working on a proposal for a course curriculum for our high school, and I'd love your input.

PS: good luck with the MTV app!

Melissa B. said...

Clix: I posted on your blog, but in case you check here--we'd be happy to help!

Clix said...

Posting an update there - love to know your thoughts :D

OKP said...

Yes. Turn her in.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin