Thursday, November 15, 2012

Solutions to Cheating?

Earlier this week I attempted to explain why cheating seems to be a viable option to many in schools.  But if cheating is so easy to explain, it must be easy to prevent it, right?  Actually, after a few years of thinking about it, I actually think it is relatively easy to prevent cheating.  Here are a few suggestions:

1.       Eliminate high stakes testing.
2.       Develop a new grading system in which students get two grades.  One can be strictly a measure of academic knowledge and skill.  The other can be a measure of integrity and character.
3.       Use student test scores as only one measure of many for teacher performance.  If test scores are to be any part at all, there must be a diagnostic pre-test with a follow-up after classroom instruction.  This sort of thing can be done in most any time frame.  And this is the only real way to evaluate teacher effectiveness via a test.
4.       Do a better job counseling students to find the best college for their personality and interests, not necessarily the most prestigious school.
5.       Eliminate busy-work assignments with simple answers students can easily share.
6.       Eliminate easily copied tests – i.e. multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, true/false tests.
7.       Teach students more effectively about honor, integrity and pride.
8.       Teach students more effectively about when it is appropriate to work in teams and when it is not.
9.       If your test questions are easily found online, accept that cheating is possible, if not likely.
10.   Be sure principals are given the power to use their judgment in teacher evaluation, but create a process by which personality differences cannot doom a teacher. 
11.   Develop excellent administrative leadership.
12.   As much as possible, use student assessments that incorporate opinion, reflection and individualization.  The more standard and objective the test, the easier it will be to cheat. 
13.   Consider the case of Finland, whereby schools that struggle get funding increases so as to provide resources for improvement.  Our system is punitive and ineffective; it is based on fear and being re-active.
14.   Have frequent, small, quick assessments.

Cheating will always be with us, as it always has.  And those who cheat will be caught. I suggest it is best to break the habits and do the teaching now rather than later.  When young people learn that cheating is acceptable they become life-long cheaters who can do real damage –see Gen. Petraeus, Lance Armstrong, or Kenneth Lay.  

What are your suggestions to curtail cheating? 

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