What should we do about the computer hackers at Winston Churchill High School in Montgomery County who changed dozens of grades? What is the solution to student cheating in general?
Research suggests that rising pressure to get into good colleges has led students to cut corners. One study cited by the Educational Testing Service said only about 20 percent of college students in the 1940s said they had cheated in high school, and the proportion is four times as large today.
Deemphasize the college race, some experts say, and much of this nonsense will go away. I have written for many years about research showing that adult success really doesn’t depend on the prestige of one’s alma mater. But that approach to easing cheating isn’t going to get us far. Competition is too much a part of American culture. Also, college pressure tends to affect only the top 20 percent of students who seek selective schools (it’s a higher percentage in the affluent Washington area) and not students who cheat for other reasons, such as laziness or boredom.