Atlanta Public Schools Have to Repay Money Won from Grants, Due to Cheating Scandal

bubble sheetIn July 2011, it came to light that teachers and administrators in the Atlanta School District had been helping their students to cheat on national, standardized tests. Now, the school district has to pay for their crime to the tune of $363,000.

The cheating had been going on since 2001 and involved almost half of the schools in the district. There were almost 180 teachers and principals accused of being involved in the cheating scandal. Evidently these teachers went so far as to give the students the answers during the tests and even changing the answers that were wrong.

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More Students Today are Cheating, Thanks to Technology and the Internet

person typing on black keyboardCheating today is a lot easier than it was a decade ago. It’s not because Little Sally is much more likely to show Little Timmy her homework assignment before school today than she would have been in the past. Nor is it because school districts feel pressured to attain high standardized test scores and let their students cheat in order to do so – although this has happened. Instead, the main reason that it is much easier for today’s students to cheat is sitting right in front of you right now: the Internet and technology.

Studies confirm this increasing trend in the number of cheaters: 80 to 85 percent of students have cheated at least once by the time they graduate high school. Until they reach the second grade, most of this cheating does occur in the traditional ways, but once they reach third grade, many are turning to the Internet to cheat. Internet plagiarism is on the rise, as is cheating with a cell phone. Students can text each other answers during a test, look up the answers to a problem on their smartphones, or take a picture of an exam and send it to a friend who has not taken the test yet.

So what are concerned parents to do about this problem? How can they keep their kids from becoming cheaters? The answer might be to start combating the issue while children are still young.

“You want to get good behavioral habits established while moral reasoning is developing and deepening,” said Thomas Lickona, Ph.D. and author of Raising Good Children and Character Matters – How to Help Our Children Develop Good Judgement, Integrity, and Other Essential Virtues. “There’s research to suggest that even young children are more sophisticated and morally observant than we might give them credit for.”

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Cheating on the SAT is Not a Good Way to Get Into College

College Board SAT acorn logoDo you remember that movie, The Perfect Score? It came out in 2004 and was about six high school seniors who stole the answers to the SAT test in order to ace it and get into Princeton University. Well, I’ve often heard that life imitates art, but a new story makes this phrase seem way too real.

Seven people were arrested recently for being involved in a SAT cheating scam in Long Island, New York. Samuel Eshaghoff, 19, was the oldest student who was arrested; the other six students are minors, so their names are not being released. Eshaghoff faces felony fraud charges and the others face misdemeanor charges.

Prosecutors claim that Eshaghoff impersonated six students at Great Neck North High between 2010 and 2011. He charged each student between $1,500 and $2,500 to take the SAT test for them. He then would go to a testing center that was not the students’ own school so that authorities would not realize he was using a fake form of identification to impersonate the other students.

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Atlanta Schools Cheat to Improve Public Image

What would you do if your teacher offered you assistance on a standardized test? I have never been in this situation, and I am very thankful for that, but many students in Atlanta’s public school system have been and the whistle was blown on this systematic cheating scandal in early July, 2011.

On July 5, 2011, a state investigation was released. This investigation showed that there had been rampant, systematic cheating on test scores in Atlanta’s public schools for the past several years. The cheating was wide-spread throughout the district and involved 44 schools and at least 178 teachers and principals. This cheating possibly occurred due to pressures to raise the schools’ public images as a long-trouble district or in order to meet standards set forth by the No Child Left Behind Act.

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Whistle-blowing Teachers Targeted in Atlanta Test Score Scandal

More information continues to surface in the ongoing investigation concerning teachers cheating to raise students test scores in the Atlanta School District. Teachers who report instances of cheating that they witness find that they become the target of investigations, are punished for making those claims and in some cases face being fired.

The school district is being investigated for widespread cheating on the 2009 CRCT test. Many teachers have come forward to report that other teachers were cheating by changing students’ answers after they had completed the test or giving students answers while they were completing the test. Teachers are under constant pressure for their students to pass the tests and many educators have been reporting on cheating for years. Unfortunately, those who do the cheating seem to be praised and those who speak out against it are the ones at risk. When a teacher reports that they have witnessed cheating, an investigation is usually launched against the reporting teacher. There is no confidentiality when a report is filed and word spreads quickly about who made the claim and all of the details involved.

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Top Ways Students Cheat in School

Students at all levels of schooling have a great advantage over those of previous decades. Along with technological advances, students have access to more gadgets and applications that can make studying easier.

Unfortunately, with those advances, also come some abuses. Things that make study life easier can also quickly turn into something that makes cheating easier.

Students are under a lot of pressure to succeed in school. High school students want to achieve high test scores and good grades to get into a good college. Those in college want to achieve the same to get into a good graduate program or other advanced degree program. This can cause strong temptations to cheat when taking a test or even with regular class assignments just to stay ahead. Below are some of the most popular ways that students cheat.

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Over 90 Percent of Students Text During Class

A study at Wilkes University revealed that 91 percent of students text in class.

“Students these days are so used to multitasking,” Deborah Tindell said, a psychology professor at Wilkes. “They believe they are able to process information just as effectively when they are texting as when they are not.”

The study also found that nearly all students think they should be able to bring their cell phones to class, and over half believe they should be allowed to text in class as long as it is not a distraction.

“Every single person I know texts in class at least occasionally,” said Dan Kautz, a communications studies major at Wilkes.

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Students Pay Big Bucks for Professionals to Write Their Papers

typingAn East-coast writer recently shared the details of his career with The Chronicle of Higher Education. It’s not the story of a novelist, poet or a journalist. It’s the story of a person who makes money by helping students cheat.

Under the nom de plume Ed Dante, he reports that he’s written over 5,000 pages of academic text, all to be handed in by someone else. He works for an online company that allows students to pass their classes without putting in the work, and he makes about $66,000 a year.  He is paid based on the number of pages for a given assignment, and the deadline. He has no qualms about lying about his academic background in order to reassure a client. This form of cheating is virtually undetectable.

The writer does not seem particularly proud of what he does. He describes himself as having no style. The students he must deal with are desperate and inarticulate. “Whenever I take on an assignment…I get a certain physical sensation. My body says: Are you sure you want to do this again? You know how much it hurt the last time. You know this student will be with you for a long time. You know you will become her emergency contact, her guidance counselor and life raft.”

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