Cheating Changes the Game

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It’s the biggest battle that schools have to face. Whether it is at a public school in Newark or an elite private in Massachusetts, cheating is changing scholastic achievement as we once knew it. Not only is cheating more prominent in the 21st century, but its violators have a new face. While it used to be the notorious slacker students who were stereotyped to cheat, cheaters have taken on a new identity, and they thrive at the top of the class.

Although cheating used to be looked at in a criminal way, “really all it is is a student who is burdened down by five core classes and is determined to achieve [good] grades,” said VHS Junior Felicia Eriksson.

Felicia may be right.

According to a recent New York Times piece which honed in on an elite private school in New York City, where top students, burdened with intense course work, are cheating their way to the top. At Stuyvesant High School, a common mentality that these overachiever cheaters have is that their intelligence potential is already known, so it won’t make a difference whether they study and get an A or cheat and receive the same grade. An anonymous senior admitted to having cheated on a chemistry test the day before, and attempted to justify his immoral actions. He feels that he could’ve studied for two hours and got an 80, or cheated with little risk and gotten a 90.

“It’s like, ‘I’ll keep my integrity and fail this test’ — no. No one wants to fail a test,” he added.

According to VHS Junior, Ashley MacMoyle, students who justify cheating are cheating themselves. “If you do that then you are not learning the material and you are cheating yourself of becoming smarter than you already claim to be.”

Not only that, but will you be able to cheat your way to the top in the real world? Some argue that cheating takes a different kind of smarts.

“You gotta be smart to cheat and not get caught. There’s something to say for that,” said VHS senior Elena Pelse. “How you got to be top of the class is an achievement that took hard work and perseverance, regardless of how you got there–cheater or not. In the real world, everyone cheats at life.”

False generalization or not, VHS Junior Michael Coppola agrees that, “it doesn’t matter how much someone cheated to get there, there is no possible way that they could’ve gotten there merely by cheating. You have skills that someone noticed.”

Another downside for 21st century students is the impact of technology. Some people say this cultural shift affects how students allocate their time studying, leaving them unprepared and willing to resort to the simple act of copying answers.  Not to mention that the technology itself often creates new opportunities to cheat.

Even “moral” students find it hard to avoid cheating. A student from Stuyvesant High School found himself in a situation in which “the teacher had literally taught me nothing all year, and during the final the students around me were openly discussing the answers, should I not listen?” he said.

“No one is actually getting the grades they deserve,” said VHS junior Alyson McMurtrie. The point of grades is to measure intelligence, it would seem, but they may just measure the ability to achieve academic success as opposed to demonstrating true intelligence. Maybe if less emphasis was put on grades, learning would be emphasized without the pressure of GPA.

Many argue that cheating is the result of the pressure to get good grades, to get into a good college, to have a successful life, and while the list of rationalizations goes on and on, cheating is not something you can justify.

You can argue that we need to reevaluate our education system, but I think we need to reevaluate the morals we instill in students.