In a recent incident, a Jefferson Davis High School teacher slammed a door which resulted in injuring a student because the teacher thought the student was cheating on a classroom test. The student had lacerations and broken bones in her fingers. Teachers can design classroom tests for which students can excel therefore eliminating the need for cheating.

According to the ninth grader, it started when another student was copying off of her paper in class. Her teacher saw was happening and balled up both of their assignments. When Nesbitt asked why her assignment was being taken away from her when she wasn’t cheating, she says he kicked her out of the classroom. Upset, she left but then realized her belongings were still in the classroom. “She left out of his class when she went to go back in, he pushed her back out the door. She kept trying to explain to him that she was trying to get her stuff. I guess he didn’t want to hear that. He was already mad. Every time she tried to go in, he pushed her out and then he finally slammed the door,” her mother told WSFA 12 News. Nancy’s hand was caught in the door as it closed. In a photo of the 15-year-old’s hand taken right after the incident, her fingers are split, bleeding and swollen. This entire incident could have been avoided if the teacher had developed a system of assessment that eliminates the need for student cheating on classroom tests.

Teachers can use several strategies that avoid the need for cheating. One example is to develop multiple forms of their classroom test. As a former teacher, I always developed two versions of the same test. In that way, if needed, I could pass out both versions during the test to eliminate the need for copying answers. If a student copied from another student, it would become evident because they would have the exact same answers as the alternative classroom test.

This provides a mechanism for re-test too. If students fail the first test, then they will have an opportunity to take the alternative classroom test. Since the teacher developed the alternative test in the beginning, there is no need to develop another classroom test and this will save the teacher time.

Student cheating on classroom test is a big problem in secondary schools. According to The Atlantic, one student highlighted in the article wrote: I cheated all throughout high school. Not only that, but I graduated as a valedictorian, National AP Scholar, Editor-in-Chief of the school newspaper, and I was accepted into the honors program at [school withheld]. To most educators, my true story is a disgrace to the system; I’m the one who got away. Now, I was talented enough in my cheating to be mostly hailed as one of the smartest and most ambitious students in my graduating class. But the one time I was caught cast a chilling shadow over my school, a shadow that briefly illuminated the overwhelming extent of cheating in my school, a shadow that no educator was then willing to confront. I have thought about that episode literally every day since it happened, and from those thoughts I have come to terms with my philosophy on cheating and how that fits into my greater perspective on education. 

It boils down to this: we are told that cheating is wrong because we are attempting to earn a grade that we do not deserve. A grade earned by cheating is not a grade reflective of our true achievement. But my contention uses identical reasoning. I cheated because the grade I would have otherwise been given was not reflective of my true learning. I never cheated in a subject that I did not learn on my own terms. That is supported by my performance in AP testing. I took 9 AP tests in high school, scoring 5s on all of them except the one I self-studied for, on which I earned a 4. Never did I cheat on any of those tests, because I felt that they were fair representations of my learning. But in AP Biology, I cheated on literally every in-class test. The curriculum and test techniques of my absolutely atrocious AP Biology class were not fair representations of my knowledge. I felt cheated of the education I deserved, and thus to earn the grade I knew I deserved, I had to cheat the system. This is only one example. I also cheated throughout physics, introduction to statistics, Spanish, chemistry, and so on. But never did I cheat a subject that I did not learn on my own terms. 

While most of my fellow cheaters, with whom I often colluded, may not have philosophized their cheating as deeply as I have, they intuitively followed the same reasoning. They knew that the classes they were attending were largely not adequately teaching them. And most of them went on to attend prestigious universities, majoring in the very fields they shamelessly cheated through in high school. 

Most students are not as deviate as the above described student. Along with developing multiple versions of a classroom test, I have found that the backward design of instruction teaches children to excel on classroom test. I used the following process.

  1. Design the unit test
  2. Design four classroom test based on the unit test
  3. Design all instructional activities based on the classroom test

When a teacher follows the above described process, there is not need for students to cheat on classroom tests.

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Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012

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