Do you want to know when people first start cheating in life? Look no further than your local high school. There is an epidemic of inappropriate behavior that is being abetted by social media technology.
A huge cheating scandal involving 69 students at Stuyvesant High School in New York City has fueled angst about the reliability of test scores posted by students across the country on their way to college. This episode has far reaching consequences as cheating is becoming an acceptable behavior among many students.
If it happens in high school, why should we be shocked that the same people cheat on their taxes, filling out medical reimbursement forms, and in their business activities?
Stuyvesant is a prestigious public high school that selects the most accomplished middle school students with competitive entrance exams. Graduates attend the best colleges in the country. This year, 80 students from Stuyvesant applied to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
You would think that these students have no need to cheat, and their skills would be sufficient to enable them to post scores that would qualify them for most colleges, including the Ivy League. Yet, competition for limited spots at great institutions has driven some students to take extraordinary measures to optimize their academic credentials.
Social media devices, which are banned at the school, abetted the aforementioned students as they “[shared] information about state Regents exams while they were taking them.” The technology age has given us all many new ways to communicate, and unfortunately, some are using devises in unacceptable ways.
Interestingly, students cheated on tests that were not considered particularly challenging. Some speculate that since every point counts in the competitive college application process, students tried to gain an edge at all costs.
A few of the students may be expelled, and many in the group will have to retake the tests that are at the center of the controversy. One wonders why any of the cheaters would be given a second chance.
This latest cheating scandal is on the heels of related incidents in Houston, Texas, where officials discovered “widespread cheating on an English final exam by students at a well regarded school.” Another scandal involving the Scholastic Aptitude Tests on Long Island had test takers impersonating other students trying to obtain higher scores.
Graduates of Stuyvesant and commentators in the school newspaper attribute bad behavior to the pressure on students to perform: Ivy League or bust!
I believe it is an issue relating to values and character. Parents and teachers are responsible for passing on these traits. They have failed on many occasions. I do not accept “the pressure is too great” justification. Schools should have a zero tolerance policy for violators as a starting point, and ethics classes that address the scourge of cheating at school and in our adult lives.
The future of our country is dependent upon rearing children who have integrity. If we fail to teach young ones in high school the importance of this quality, we should not be surprised by more scandals at every level throughout our society.