In late March and early April, anxious high school seniors wait for little white envelopes or big fat mailing packets indicating whether they gained admission to the college of their choice. They did everything they could to make the grade. And for 75 percent of them or more, according to a national study conducted by Duke University, that included some form of cheating.
Yet despite the prevalence of academic cheating – ranging from copying homework to plagiarizing off the Internet to purloining test answers – and the concern that without ethics you get Enron, there are no statewide or school-district wide academic integrity standards. Perhaps it’s time to make curbing cheating part of the public policy agenda.
Among the consequences of letting it go unchecked is student and teacher alienation. As I reported in the Chronicle Magazine last September, many students, under intense pressure to get good grades for college admission, believe they’re chumps if they don’t cheat. And many teachers report that when they catch cheaters red-handed, the administration doesn’t back them up.