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Original post made
on Jun 5, 2014
> One of the teachers questioned several students
> and students reported to him that a picture of the
> test had been taken and distributed.
Does this mean that a picture of the test was taken before the test began? If so, isn't this a breach of security about which those administering the test should be answering questions?
> After investigating, "We were able to determine that
> there were text messages and photos of answers to
> the final exam sent between students,"
Did this investigation actually look into the cell phone records of those with the short test times, at least? And why are live cell phones allowed in testing areas? Clearly high school students can not be trusted not to cheatso why give them the opportunity?
No streaking but cheating....We like to be in the news somehow. It should be mandatory re-testing for all our students on June 10.
[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]
"Clearly high school students can not be trusted not to cheatso why give them the opportunity?"
At least the school took a look and learned about the cheating. Finally! Cheaters are compelled to brag. It wouldn't be half as fun for cheater giving or receiving the answers if nobody gave them credit for being so "smart."
If they keep looking they will know who it is.
While catching the cheating is nice, more needs to be done to prevent cheating. Mixing up tests, more adult monitors, CAMERAS during testing.
I attended Paly back in the days and once again God forbid "If someone from Paly cheats, we would be punished...re-taking the test was the only option. There was no acceptable grade! A "F" or no credit for this subject."
"Students were given the choice of retaking the exam Tuesday, June 10, or leaving their algebra grade as is."
Why would students that cheated and had the answers want to retake the exam?? If they don't know who cheated, shouldn't everyone need to retake the exam? They must have some idea of who cheated, or at least who sent the photos.
Is there an Honor Code at Paly or is this another situation where the students get to hide behind the Paly Curtain without any real punishment? Glad to hear they're enforcing the behavior.
It is too bad that a few can spoil it for many, but Paly should now take the step that other schools have: When there is an important test, students turn over their cell phones to the teacher as they enter the room. Phones are returned when the test is over. Perhaps this policy would spur the many responsible students at Paly -- the vast majority, in fact -- to impose pressure on their cheating peers to either stop or face serious personal sanctions.
This appears to be an example of one class period receiving photos of a test from a previous period. Apparently very common. Disturbing but not surprising.
More disturbing are reports suggesting that there are students with copies of prior years tests. These tests are obtained from older siblings, friends, etc. and are allegedly shared among small circles of students. These exchanges are even said to be organized by student's families.
If tests change little from year to year - as presumed - offenders gain a real if unfair advantage.
Troubling - if true - to think what impact this has on academic integrity. Also troubling to consider what message this sends both to the students involved and to those aware of but not participating in the practice.
The type of test involved is called a "scratcher." The students solve the problem, then "scratch off" the answer they believe is correct. It's like filling in bubbles, except the scratcher reveals instantly if you got the right answer. Apparently a cell phone/s was used to take a picture of a completed test, then texted to others. As a parent of a student in one of the classes involved, I'd like to know if this was an ad hoc effort of a few dishonest kids trying to help their friends, or if it was organized ahead of time. If so, what was the motivation for one person (or a few) to study, do well, and then cheat for the benefit of kids who didn't study? Were they paid, or what? I hope the administration will report as much as they are able. I also hope readers understand that the vast majority of students work hard and take finals honestly. This incident is a huge inconvenience for all of those students.
"More disturbing are reports suggesting that there are students with copies of prior years tests. These tests are obtained from older siblings, friends, etc. and are allegedly shared among small circles of students. These exchanges are even said to be organized by student's families. "
I agree, there are organized parents who keep tests and materials for their younger kids, and there are students who give their friends all their notes, tests, quizzes, labs, after they are finished with the class.
This "organization" is worth a lot at Paly. Saves kids time, gives them the better grades.
I have to say, I went to Paly in the 70's, Foothill, San Jose State and other Universities and I have seen a lot of cheating and evidence of a lot of cheating and let's say inconsistent grades and treatment by instructors ... even blatant, though that was an age when I don't think cheating was as rampant as it seems to be today.
One has to wonder why the educational institutions themselves do not find ways to end this, because I am sure it can be done.
Perhaps they want to leave room for a bit of out of band creativity in test-taking since that seems to be what our country runs on these days.
Seriously, I blame the school and teachers. There jobs are to test what students learn and at all levels they mostly do a really bad job at it. From posing questions in the most obtuse, complicated way that disproportionately affects those with dyslexia and non-native English speakers and people unfamiliar with our culture or its vernacular, to questions that are unexpected or were only explained to some of the class.
The one common thread is so many stories we read today is institutional rot at all levels.
And surely this cannot be that problematic in this case if the work was supposed to be shown and it was not - voila - no credit, cheater identified. This just says that there are methods to cheat that are being used by some students.
Did anyone really get away with it or is this just a poll of the integrity and honesty of this year's students?
> "More disturbing are reports suggesting that there are students with copies of prior years tests. These tests are obtained from older siblings, friends, etc. and are allegedly shared among small circles of students. These exchanges are even said to be organized by student's families. "
This is very true. I don't really see anything wrong with this other than that the sharing is unequal.
There is a certain skill that is trying to be taught ... if you deliberately withhold examples from students so that you can hit them with new stuff on the exam, what is it you are really teaching?
Teachers seem to have to find ways to winnow out students in as objectively fair a way as they can, but there is nothing fair about the tricks they use to do that.
The teachers themselves ought to make the old tests available to students who want to study them ... you can learn as much from an old test as you can from a lecture or homework, because as you analyze old tests you see what it is that the teacher is trying to catch people on and you learn something more.
There are so many dimensions to this problem that we are just using complexity of analysis and opaqueness as a substitute for random fairness, and we can see that does not work, at least if we really do care about tests and classed being fair ... which I don't imagine we do anymore as long as the right people graduate.
Any student in any educational institution should be able to have the confidence that they will get as much help and as many examples as problems as they need to learn a subject, and that being tested should be a measure of their mastery of a subject and not some other political machinations, apathy or incompetencies on the part of the institution.
Why not get rid of the idea of so much competition and grading on a curve. When someone learns something - they learn it, no need to give preferences to people where their learning process or speed is not understood. Do we measure the skill or the person?
As a Paly alum you bet I've kept my old tests and quizzes and homework for my sister (current Paly student) to study and use. And why not? It's how college works -- every single one of my college professors has distributed the past few years of midterm/final exams for us to study from, sometimes even 5-7 years back. And we're encouraged to use these past exams to study off of; we even have classes dedicated to questions directly from these materials. Aren't we trying to prepare these kids for college anyways?
It's not the students' fault that teachers are lazy and reuse old tests, quizzes and homeworks. If the high school teachers wanted to really rectify this, then if they're going to reuse tests, don't allow students to take the graded ones home. It's pretty simple and many of my teachers at Paly did just that. Or, gasp, create new tests each year -- it's part of what we pay them for isn't it?
The fact of the matter is, old tests and such are useful study materials not necessarily because they give the student in question the answers to this year's test (any sometimes they may, inadvertently), but rather it allows the student to practice and study off tests/etc. that are essentially guaranteed to be relevant material for their upcoming tests. The study material could just as easily been taken from their textbook. Why not embrace and utilize the best resources you're given?
Two very serious problems about taking away their phones.
1 Not all students are to be trusted as much as others to pick up their own phone. Phone theft is already a problem at high school and this could increase the problem.
2 With the number of out of date phones in a home, or the availability of cheap phones, it would be extremely easy for a student to have more than one phone, one to put in the phone box at the beginning of the class, and one to use during class.
Cheating is bad, but I can't see that a phone hand in will make it go away. Something else will have to sort the problem.
Crescent Park Anon,
"The teachers themselves ought to make the old tests available to students who want to study them ... you can learn as much from an old test as you can from a lecture or homework, because as you analyze old tests you see what it is that the teacher is trying to catch people on and you learn something more."
I's not just tests. Notes are priceless. Quizzes, Labs. If you sold these at the curb, you could make a ton of money but people are sharing these to either help their siblings, or to be nice to a friend.
The students who have these things at the beginning of the semester (the most important time in a class) they are leagues ahead because they have figured out a lot about how the class. The least teachers could do is not repeat an identical lab, quiz, or test at the beginning of the semester. They actually do, some classes are like Groundhog day.
I agree that the teachers have been helping create the inequities and you can't enforce sharing to help a sibling, a friend.
Can't enforce sharing your old notes, quizzes, tests, labs. "Sharing" a picture of the Final is different. Is it?
Cell phones shouldn't be allowed in any class at all. Aside from cheating opportunities, they facilitate distractions.
At at least one nearby HS, cellphone use for any reason results in confiscation. Those phones go to the principal's office & can't be retrieved until Friday afternoons. Not much phone-related trouble in that school.
A sad commentary on the ethics of some students and their parents. The cram school mentality, bragging/oversharing over grades (and sometimes, exaggeration), comepetiveness on Ivy League admissions and so on has led to poor behavior around here. Not confined to "Algebra II" by any means - we well recall some at "the top" who were cheating, prepped, coddled, tutored and one in particular a notable National Merit Finalist!
I believe there are honest students and they do suffer when others cheat and lie, but there is a problem of certain parents pressuring their kids (usually top so called "achievers")to "Win" at any cost, other be damned, ethics be damned and so on.
#1 Administration leadership is crucial to re-set this situation. What IS the purpose of getting a high quality education anyway?? What attitude should all bring to the table - learn and grow, do your own work OR concentrate on beating the other guy (figuratively) over the head by garnering more awards, math competition wins, college offers, using any tactic possible, no matter if it involves cheating or ethical misbehavior.
#2 level the playing field: teachers MUST oversee tests, perhaps proctors are needed, steps taken to ensure students do their own work as much as possible, remove backpacks and other items when students sit at desks for tests, separate desks
#3 I strongly oppose those who say it is "common" and "ok" to save old curriculum, quizzes, tests and so on for select friends and siblings. When you take a class - anywhere - YOU are supposed to take the class and learn the material, attend classes/lectures and do your own work on everything from papers to tests.
#4 In our experience, college professors do NOT show old tests and freely encourage studying off those as Paly alum '12 posts just above. I find that an odd story/justification.
Confiscating phones doesn't work either, they just go out and buy a new one, particularly if it is more than 6 months old.
In my school days, we were encouraged to look at old tests, notes etc. In fact the teachers expected us to do so. There were published tests in local bookshops and teachers used them as homework which they graded. Times have changed because my teachers set new tests each year and they often covered a different aspect of the curriculum from year to year.
When I was in high school, it was standard procedure to study using the exams from the previous year. It gave you a good idea of what to expect. Imagine my shock when sitting down to a Physics exam and finding that we were presented with the same exam we had studied. I didn't know what to do so was relieved when the teacher, the Chem teacher filling in for the departing Physics teacher, invalidated the exam. Details like this can make a big difference in how you look at a case like this. It is up to the teacher to change the exam year to year and if they don't, you can't call it cheating. On the other hand, if a photo was taken during 1st period and people used that during 4th period, that is cheating.
What's very sad is that the probable majority of honest students now have to retake the test during their summer break. I hope there will be serious and appropriate repercussions for the cheaters. They should get an automatic F on the test with no chance to retake it. Their dishonesty shames them and creates real expense and problems for others. I hope the cheating students' parents will provide additional repercussion to reinforce that good family values do NOT include cheating. Start by permanently taking away their misused cell phones. If my kid did this she'd be grounded for the summer, too. How disappointing.
Also, I wonder how the district will organize retesting when many families have left town for vacations already. This is just awful for everyone involved--the school district, the cheaters' classmates. If these kids had a lick of sense, they'd realize it's awful for them, too. We do NOT want these students entering the adult world with the attitude that cheaters prosper.
@former Paly parent:
Let's dive into each of your points:
1. I've encountered people similar to those in your 'beating over the head' example. What does this say, then, that kids immediately take these conversations as a slight to them? Are they seriously insecure enough that they can't just be happy for the other kid's achievements? I mean let's be real here, people earn and don't earn awards, people win and lose math competitions and people get into better and worse colleges. I'm not advocating 'ends justify the means,' or unethical behavior but at the same time, it's a cutthroat world and it's naive to think that people don't use 100% of the resources available to set themselves up in the best possible way for their future.
2. Teachers DO oversee tests. Are you in the classroom? You seriously think that teachers at Paly would just leave a classroom of teenagers in a room together, alone, to take a test? Come on. What, do you want a proctor for each student, looking over their shoulder, making sure they don't divert their eyes? Let's be reasonable here.
3. In my personal experience, it's not a 'select' group. It's not like I'm limiting my old curriculum to just my sister, I'd give them to anyone. And it's not like these are carbon copies of the current curriculum either -- they're just additional study materials. How this is any different from getting additional textbooks out of the public library or looking up online notes/help is beyond me. If your point is that teachers don't change their tests/homework/labs/papers then your problem isn't with the me, it's with the teacher who is too lazy to simply write a new set of tests each year. But if the tests and such are new each year, last year's material doesn't give anyone a leg up on anyone else, so I fail to see the problem here.
4. In 'our' experience? When did you go to school? Everything's on the internet now if you hadn't seen, and it's not frowned upon at all. Here's one of Stanford's math classes' past exams, going back until 2000: Web Link. Here's Cal, which outlines all their math classes and their respective past exams: Web Link. I mean, just by Google-ing "past math exams", I get old tests from Stanford, Cal, Merced, Penn, Purdue, UCSD, WashU and Michigan just on the first page. So it's hardly an unusual practice.
When I was in high school, the teacher walked around the room during class and stood or sat in the back, that is an easy way to catch cheating. What I don't understand is how kids have the opportunity to take out their phone during a test, period. All they should have on their desk is the test and whatever writing instrument they need, and a calculator if allowed. Everything else should be in a backpack and under the chair or desk. Perhaps backpacks need to be behind the teacher's desk and away from the students.
@Teachable moment - I agree about the students being out of town, pretty much every Paly student I know is gone this week, has a summer job or is looking at colleges.
@Paly alum '12 - Teachers actually do leave class during tests, my son's English used to leave all the time and the kids would write on the board while he was out of the classroom.
Ethical failures start at home, but when they make it to class, and are caught, it needs to be punished. By not punishing the cheaters, Paly is failing ethics itself. Should be an F on the final, and the class.
Not punishing the cheating is the same as punishing the honest students. If school enforce the policy of reporting the cheating to all college admission office, that should alarm most of them.
@ Paly alum '12
I know a ton of young adults, and am familiar with a range of HS and universities.
There is such a thing as dignity, manners, true friendship and oversharing, excessive online gossiping, slut shaming and all that ilk of behavior should be discouraged along with cheating, ethical misbehavior. Around here, we witnessed excessive sharing of each and every grade, with the intent to discourage or rattle others, to brag, and this is not behaving with decency and as a good community member.
This has nothing to do with being proud of one's true achievements. That may be valid in many cases.
We witnessed in recent years a huge increase in over-prepped students who have parents who pay for them to learn the curriculum in advance of taking a course, tutors who wrote essays for a PALY student, secretly hoarding old curriculum/tests, excessive bragging and other unpleasant behaviors aimed at discouraging others instead of sharing the learning experience, doing one's own work, collaborating, experiencing some serendipity in high school. It is more like a pitched battle around here, with many parents who are NOT engaged in PALY, really just using it as a shell - as a means of formalizing the paper record while Mommy plans it out years prior and the prepping takes place in advance, outside of the PALY classroom.
When one is a parent-managed project, one may be smug about one's possible higher status when the SAT and AP's that count roll around (after all, you have taken them a bunch of times, Mommy paid for costly tutoring and pressuring) and you CAN live life "for the test" and "for the grade" and have parents manage your extra-curriculars, BUT you are not a real individual owning your own experience. The students who take their own route have my admiration, it is tough to do this in this environment, but they are the ones who really live and I wish them a pleasant future. In meantime, they have to compete with those who game the system.
Cheating is WRONG. Period. Aiming for Harvard is no excuse.
Cheating: Natural consequence of a system that rewards academic "achievement" and not best effort. Coupled with intense pressure to get into the "best" colleges leads to cheating plus study-drug use. Way back in grade one, maybe grade two, there was a grade for effort. Too bad that type of grading doesn't carry through all the way through college. Schools (rare) that have two sets of grades, one for academic achievement and the other for effort, foster an environment of honorable success and character development. Even for kids for whom highest grades come relatively easily, there is no incentive for giving their best effort since partial effort for them attains the highest academic grades given out.
Those that are found to have cheated need to be held accountable. Otherwise, what's the deterrent? From what I can tell, everyone gets to take it over if they want. And, if the teacher is lazy enough to use the same exam for multiple classes, and maybe over multiple years, what's to say that the new test won't be the same as the old test?
In the Student Handbook, the first core value of PAHS is, "Promoting personal integrity and respect." And there's also this under the Honesty Policy:
CONSEQUENCES FOR ACADEMIC DISHONESTY ARE SCHOOLWIDE AND CUMULATIVE FOR ALL THE
YEARS YOU ATTEND PALO ALTO HIGH SCHOOL.
POSSIBLE CONSEQUENCES FOR ACADEMIC DISHONESTY MAY INCLUDE:
! Zero on assignment or assessment.
! May be required to redo assignment.
! Redo previously graded work while in the presence of teacher and be reassessed, if academic dishonesty has
occurred on more than one occasion in same class.
! Conference with parents and teacher, teacher advisor, guidance counselor, and/or administrator.
! Referrals to ACS, school counselor, psychologist, social worker, or other school support service personnel.
! Student may receive an intervention created by administrator/guidance counselor based on the misconduct.
! Community service
! All of the student's teachers may be notified and may choose not to write letter of recommendation.
! Colleges may be notified regarding the cheating and/or plagiarism offenses.
BE AWARE: Students applying to 4-year college, trade school, gap year programs, other post-secondary schooling as well
as those who wish to join the military, MAY BE REQUIRED TO REPORT academic dishonesty and/or suspensions as part of the
Those seem like fairly tame punishments for cheating, considering personal integrity is the school's first core value. They all seem more like threats. For the most part, it's redoing the assignment or a meeting with administration.
Just give different tests for the subject. That way no one would have any chance to send a copy of it. No one test would be arranged in the order one class had taken it. It may be more work for the instructors, but it lessens the chance for cheating.
Undoubtedly, Dr. Skelly will deny that any cheating took place as cheating doesn't occur in the PAUSD, just as bullying never does.
The blame begins with the students, not the teachers. It takes the students planning to cheat. Cheating does nothing for the students future, believe me. It just shows that there is a lack of knowledge of the cheated subject. Moral of the story...put ALL cell phones at the front of the room and give students either calculators or pencil and paper to figure out problems...Novel idea????
They cheat and get to keep the grade?
>> #3 I strongly oppose those who say it is "common" and "ok" to
>> save old curriculum, quizzes, tests and so on for select friends
>> and siblings. When you take a class - anywhere - YOU are
>> supposed to take the class and learn the material, attend
>> classes/lectures and do your own work on everything from papers to tests.
OK, well, recently I took a class at a local University in a subject
I was interested in.
The first thing I noticed that students not only did not get to keep
the tests, they did not get the see the tests after the test.
This really bugged me, and so I made a very strong point of going to
the instructor so I could review my test.
In doing so ... and remember, this is one test out of one ... I found an
error in the grading of the test. There was a program run on the test
that scrambled the numbers and answers so that even if someone had
the answers they could not use the answer sheet and get the right
answers. Apparently there was a bug in that program.
Tests and quizzes are an important study guide, or at least they always
were for in in finals and midterms, so denying students the ability
to keep, use and go back over their quizzes and tests for me is a
non-starter and a big set-back in terms of learning.
That is why I said, everything that students are to be tested on should
be taught AND given in lecture. Examples of problems, speaking of
math here are very important.
The progression should be EXPLAIN, DEMONSTRATE WITH AN EXAMPLE,
then ASK QUESTIONS and GIVE ASSIGNMENT PRACTICE. I've never been
in a math class I could not ace by repeatedly doing all the problems in
the book, until they stick and I feel comfortable with them ... the
earlier the better.
The object here is to make sure the students learn ... that they and their
parents get their money's worth. I think a good sway to do that is to
share current and former quizzes, notes and tests, every new class
should have better understanding - otherwise we are just throwing
people out for the sake of an artificial curve that we do not really even
know what it means or who is progressing.
Make the tests individual and do not use tricks to knock people out who
are maybe not good readers, not good test takers, not native English
speakers or dyslexic.
In the class I recently took the only questions I got wrong were things
that were worded by a non-English speaker in a way that I was unsure
about ... and I am a native English speaker. There is so much wrong
with tests and grades, it is unfair to people and encourages dishonesty
School testing should be banned...It's for the children.
Where are the teachers and aides during these tests that kids are taking photos with their phones??? Are they doing something other than monitoring the test taking and what the kids are doing? How about having parents of younger students volunteer to monitor classes taking finals as a "pay it forward" kind of service, much like the 4th grade parents produce the 5th grade promotion?
I agree with taking phones upon entering class for a final - simply have students label their phones, and the person/teacher/aid validates the label is accurate to the student dropping off, and then validates to the students picking up. If students are too worried about losing their phones they can leave them at home that day. Those of us from an earlier generation survived just fine without cell phones! Kids can hid phones in pockets, but if teachers, aides, and parent volunteers are vigilant it should be hard to cheat.
Of course, adding extreme repercussions for sneaking in a phone could help - being caught with a phone or any type of photo or recording device means expulsion. Then, of course, act on the "threat," no matter who breaks the rules.
I have my students take their tests online and scramble the order of the answers to reduce cheating. There are programs available that will also scramble aspects of the questions so each student has different questions with different correct answers. Auto-grading is as quick as using "scratchers."
And I think it only makes sense for past tests to be published to all students - otherwise only younger siblings and friends have an unfair advantage. This seems obvious, and is typical in college classes, but not sure our school district cares much about maintaining fairness unless it increases student scores...
Yes, it does mean teachers would have to actually create a new test each year. They will probably need another aid to help so our PiE donations will have to increase. How did teachers manage 30 years ago? Sorry, off-topic...
Cheating on Algebra 2? Algebra 2? Either Paly's Math exams are really hard or the students are weak (and dishonest).
It's algebra, literally the hardest thing on there could be "graph y=-2x+1". If high school kids are cheating on something as elementary as that, then there's a pretty big problem with how that material is taught. Most kids master this in middle school. Good going, Paly education.
Just ask the NSA, they should/could figure out who did what/when.
When I took the bar exam, I brought in a small collection of "authorized items" in a clear ziplock bag. Proctors walked around the room throughout the exam. I am told they have video surveillance now too. Cell phones should be forbidden in all test rooms. Of course with the advent of Google glass, cameras are going from micro to nano. In a few years, an ordinary pair of reading glasses might be capable of broadcasting a live video feed. Back to tests themselves then, and finding ways to make them both individualized and universally fair.
Left of Boom,
"Cheating on Algebra 2? Algebra 2? Either Paly's Math exams are really hard or the students are weak (and dishonest)."
Algebra 2 happens to be the test where cheating was suspected, and investigated. You can be 100% certain that cheating happened in the higher Math lanes, in all subjects, and that the population of master cheaters are in the hardest classes. How do you thing many of them got there in the first place?
Two things here. One is the idea that the person who shares the information is somehow "helping" others. If you had to solve a crime, everyone should be trying to profile these perps. They are exerting power, and there must be a social or psychological benefit they receive from playing this game, or they're just good at it.
The "weak" in this situation are the kids who received the picture on their phone and used it. They may have felt part of the "inside" group who got the picture - turning that down is not easy in high school.
Of course some of the kids are probably dumb to participate, but they do dumb things all the time.
This is where teachers are supposed to come in, to do all the things that have been suggested above. Stop creating situations where kids are going to be tempted.
Perfect situation here. A scratchy test which is graded on the spot (so the teacher doesn't even have to grade it!), nobody to catch the kids taking pictures, or even thinking that anyone wouldn't.
What teachers are doing by failing to prevent these situations is creating an inequitable environment for the kids who are not elite cheaters and for the kids who actually earn their grades.
The Campanile reported cheating on AP Psych here - Web Link
The article seemed to reflect an ongoing cultural issue. Any follow up?
(I asked recently also here- Web Link)
My second point was the social nature of cheating.
Kids are in a high stress situation, most of them literally exhausted and possibly mentally ill after the packed year that the school offers. What, between months of career speakers, community service week, Field day, athletic competitions, plays, graduation events, umpteen classes, on and on and on and on.
Forgetting for one second all the problems with cheating. These kids are helping each other is what is a fairly brutal pace of having to prove themselves year around.
Cheating is endemic in some cultures, where kids are pressured to an extreme by parents. Some are even disowned if their grades do not meet expectations.
To those focused on learning. Two articles here about making Finals optional.
If a teacher really taught during the semester (especially the longer second semester), and there were multiple other grades whereby the student was evaluated, why should the school pile thousands of activities, and finals in a one month period?
It's really a recipe for disaster. Kids should not be dead tired before summer, as they are dead tired before Thanksgiving, and dead tired before Christmas, and families end up with sick kids who barely have time to re-charge during their holidays.
The assumption that all cheating is to get an A+. Some might think that this is the higher achieving students.
However, Algebra 2 is a required level of math and many students do struggle to pass.
I don't know any more than the rest of the people commenting here, but instead of always assuming it is the high achievers, perhaps thinking it may be those who struggle with math may change your attitude.
I do not condone cheating for any reason. But I do know that there are many good students at Paly who struggle with math. They are in classes with people who have been prepped ahead of time and as a result the teachers tend to move through material very quickly. For some, they have a hard time keeping up and unless they can get private help outside class time or stay after school (many can't do that) they struggle to get a C. This may motivate cheating just as much as aiming for an Ivy League. As I say, I don't know, but I do know that there are more ways of looking at this than this discussion displays.
OMG! This extensive tv news report from PALY by NBC Bay Area News - a lot more detail and it's pretty unflattering
y = 2x + 1? That's pre-Algebra. It's been awhile but Alg.II covered things like logarithms and matrices in my day. That's abstract stuff and I can see where it would cause some panic at exam time. No excuse for cheating though. Doesn't PALY offer summer school? Not ideal, but no shame in it either, unlike cheating. I think there is too much emphasis on the bottom line in education - grades. The school experience can teach valueable life skills too, such as resiliency, effort, determination, grit. Too bad there is no standardized test to quantify those qualities.
Paly Parent is correct that cheating isn't necessarily for an "A". The issue is that PAUSD grades too harshly so it invites cheating. Some teachers know how to balance it where students learn but a good grade is within reach for hard work. Or they allow students to drop grades, use homework passes, redeem their grade in some form. But others expect way too much from the students (like it's their only class) and have no problem assigning grades of C, D or F, even to hard-working students. Some teachers are unavailable after school for students to find help. Some families offset this by paying for tutors. But tutors are $45-$90/hour. Not everyone has that kind of cash. So students and parents do what they have to do to get into the 3.0 GPA range, whether it's looking at old tests, copying homework, having parents do their homework for them, paying for tutors. And yes, the goal is to have at least a 3.0, not a 4.2. There are regular lane classes with teachers who are too demanding as well as AP classes. I've spoken to parents who laugh because they completed their child's homework (in the subject of the parent's major or graduate degree in college) and the parent didn't earn an A grade. If college graduates of elite universities cannot earn an A on a high school paper, then the teachers are expecting way too much! Reform, Diorio!
The solution is simple - except that it takes some extra prep time by the teachers...
Period 1 Algebra takes "Test A"
Period 2 Alg takes "Test B"
Say the test is 25 questions --- use a pool of 50 questions. Switch out the questions and change the order of questions.
The following year (assuming content stays the same), change the variables of the questions/answers; otherwise the same implementation. Do this for 4-5 consecutive years. After 5 years, the teachers now have a treasure trove of exam questions/answers that can be used going forward.
They should change the way they schedule finals. In our school, all Algebra II classes take the final at the same time. Finals are scheduled by class subject not period of day. All biology classes take the final at the same time, etc. Prevents any sharing of tests. And final are never returned to students.
There seems tobe a misguided belief at PA middle schools and high schools that adolescents do not get tired. Universities fall prey to this misbelief as well. That is why kids are overloaded with homework, afterschool sports, afterschool clubs and activities, not even counting tutors. Some parents from other cultures buy into this misconception as well, yet once they get out of college and get a high paying job, it is then okay to act childish, immature, party to excess, drink to excess, etc. would it not BE more appropriate to act like a kid when still a kid, rather than when it is time to be an adult? Worse yet, that is the example set for them, the light at the end of the educational tunnel, so to speak
I'm surprised nobody has mentioned graphing calculators. These are used and recommended in all of the Algebra 2 classes, and it is fairly easy to type "1. 3.42 2. x=304, 3....". In any case, if you have the right phone case, you could just rest your phone on your desk and it would look like a graphing calculator.
Someone mentioned that "all algebra II classes should have the final at the same time", but PALY has too many different class options (and too many students in multiple math or English or science classes) for that to work.
I agree; best way would to be to use different tests for different students or classes.
I attended The Ohio State University and there was an honor code that every student signed, "No aid given, received, nor observed". It was part of the culture that most tests (especially in Math -- and I majored in Electrical Engineering) were open book because the point was to demonstrate mastery of mathematical knowledge, not memorization. When our high schools and universities adopt a culture of demonstrated mastery of a course with grade achievement in perspective, there is less of a need to cheat. Once you are using mathematical principles in the workplace or the world at large - no one wants to know what your grades were, only that they can trust your competence. It is sad to read parents with a network to share tests, and that parents and teachers aren't more focused on building a culture of mastery of material in school. Is it worth promoting cheating for grades just to get into an Ivy League school? If you cheat on tests, why not steal? When the student makes it into the University of choice, will they be able to sustain cheating behavior to attain top grades? The world is becoming much more transparent, and reputation and integrity are still highly valued. Was it Gandhi who taught us actions become habits...become your values...destiny? There is too much pressure on students to make grades, and not enough emphasis on finding joy and passion in the subject matter.
To those saying that Algebra 2 is so easy you shouldn't have to cheat, well, you're wrong. As a previous poster noted, it's fairly abstract and not that simple. Also, it's a class that, unless you are planning on being in a technical field, you'll never have to know it again. And the highest lane students are not taking Algebra 2, they get that in a combined class. So these are students who for whatever reason are in a lower lane.
It's my opinion that we should eliminate Algebra 2 as a required class, and substitute in a class on practical math. How does interest work? How does the banking system work? And - very important - a good healthy dose of statistics so students won't be snowed by partisan groups spouting off poll numbers and misinterpreting them. This would be WAY more useful than knowing how to calculate the asymptote of a hyperbola.
Real smart students do not need tutor and do not need to cheat. They do well natively. Those cheaters are not that smart at math but try to get good grade in order to get in a good college. So, they have pressure from home and peers. Then they learn that if they can cheat, they win. PAUSD should punish these cheaters and give them F for their permanent grade record when reporting to college. No repeating test should be given. If PAUSD set this restrict rule, no one would cheat again in the future because of serious consequence.
If they cheat in high school, they will cheat again in college, and later in work place, very bad.
In my high school, a much larger school than Paly, all the math finals for all the grades were administered at the same time in the two gyms and two cafeterias, same was true for all the core classes. I don't recall much cheating going on in my day.
Paly teachers who reuse old tests and do not return tests back to the students for the sole purpose of reusing these tests in the future are simply lazy. A language department at Paly has a formal policy of not allowing graded tests to ever leave a classroom, this is just so the teachers can reuse the exact same tests year after year. These tests are produces by the book publisher (it would probably be very easy for an ambitious cheater to obtain a copy from the publisher) not written by the teacher - this policy is bad for learning, provides passive education and only hurts the students. A teacher should create a new test every time based on what was taught in class.
For teachers, here's the solution to cell phone problem in the classroom during final exams:
1. Get a mail sorter and number each compartment;
2. Tell students that no cell phones allowed during exams;
3. Give each student a Post-it with name & a number matches the number on the slot as they turn in his/her phone;
4. Encourage students to monitor each other. Bonus points will be added to their test score for students who report suspicious cheating activity. For cheaters: "F" will be given and NO chance to retake the test.
5. When students finish the test, they should reclaim their cell phones with their numbered Post-it.
Bottom line: honesty should be encouraged and rewarded, cheating should be shamed and disciplined.
1. Make students sign an honor code commitment and explain what it means for now and their future.
2. Grade students on learning during the semester, based on regular tests and in-class contribution performance. Then give them the choice of not having to take a final exam if they are happy with their semester's grade. I know from my HS in the Netherlands, it was a very successful strategy and students wanted to learn during the semester. Not having to cram for a final exam was a great motivator.
3. Teachers to prepare 3 different but equal final tests and distribute them randomly.
@ ConcernMom - The problem is the students, not the phones. If a student is able to pull out their phone, and take pictures during class without being detected, they will just as easily be able to keep a second phone in their pocket and do the same after all the honest students put their phones in a box at the head of the class.
Try searching amazon for "mini camera" and you will see that half measures like not allowing phones in class are useless. Above all it is an ethics issue, and that is a subject that clearly needs more focus, and breaches need more punishment.
It seems like a lot of the people here are disconnected from reality. Yes, some students cheat, but many other students do not. It seems like excessive measures to be installing cameras in the classroom, or forcing students to turn in their cell phones. Give the high-schoolers some credit - they're not stupid, and if you try to install a policy to limit an avenue that they can use to cheat, they'll just find another one.
Do what they do at the university level - make several versions of the exam. Since it's impossible to make all the students take the exam at the same time, it make it inherently difficult to prevent information from being shared from the earlier test-takers with the later ones. Just create multiple exams - one for each sitting. It might be extra work for the teachers, but I don't think it's that unreasonable. Maybe even create multiple versions of the same exam, where the questions are staggered, so that if somebody is trying to cheat off of the person next to them, they'll have a more difficult time getting to the same questions at the same time.
Finally, the solution to the cheating issue isn't treating the students like criminals. When I was at Paly, cheating was rampant across the board, including in the accelerated classes. Students would meet up at lunch and discuss the problems on the exams, and the route to a solution. Even if they weren't explicitly providing the answers, they were giving the later test-takers an advantage. Again, not everybody bought into that, but I can't tell you how many times I would see groups of classmates huddled together in the library furtively looking at a sheet of notebook paper as somebody laid out the steps to a solution. Do I think anybody was affected by that in the long run? No. With a few exceptions, the students who made it into the top-tier universities were the ones that would've accomplished it on their own regardless (and they were often not the cheaters to begin with). The ones who did cheat probably suffered academically in other areas as well (such as not staying on top of their homework).
There's no need to try to attack this problem with a sledgehammer - I'm surprised that this is making as much news as it is. Maybe part of the issue is the demand for academic excellence and getting the "A" rather than learning for knowledge's sake. That's definitely something I experienced at my tenure there, and it's a lot of pressure to put on a 14- to 18-year-old.
> It's been awhile but Alg.II covered things like logarithms
> and matrices in my day. That's abstract stuff
Not certain that I would agree, since this is math taught to high school students.
The following links point to a couple on-line Algebra text books, which provide some insight into the topics being taught, and the teaching approach:
Holt/California Algebra II:
Anyone know what text the PAUSD Math Department uses for this course?
The students get a choice to keep their grade as is or retake the exam? Is this considered a "consequence"? If there are e-mails and pictures and totally unreasonable finish times for some exams, then the administrators clearly know the identities of many of the cheaters. Cheating should invalidate their tests and result in a zero score. No punishment at all sends the wrong message to all of the students.
Looking to the future, as a university administrator, do you want students from a system that tolerates cheating? As a consumer, do you want a CPA, lawyer, doctor, or teacher that feels it is OK to cheat? What is the limit? When is enough, enough?
I feel for any student who happens to have been in this algebra class and honorably decided to refrain from cheating. It seems that this student is now in the same boat as the cheaters and has to retake the test or perhaps suffer a lower grade.
I doubt very much every student cheated, but it seems they are all being tarred with the same brush.
Come on Paly, give the honest students their due. If you can't sort this out better than there was absolutely no reason for them to be honorable and not cheat. Their summers are being disrupted by more study and retake tests - possibly when they are away. Is that fair for them?
"Come on Paly, give the honest students their due. If you can't sort this out better than there was absolutely no reason for them to be honorable and not cheat. Their summers are being disrupted by more study and retake tests - possibly when they are away. Is that fair for them?"
The standout theme on this thread has been how this could have been avoided by better teaching and testing methods, and as long as teachers and schools don't acknowledge their part, punishing all students is convenient for them but obviously unfair to the kids who did not cheat.
The other big issue here is student stress, and the schools keep piling it on. I have not seen any concrete measures to reduce stress.
Where are the articles about when and how that will happen?
You either catch the cheaters and punish them, but I agree it's really wrong not catch them, and instead punish everyone (no consequence to those delivering poor testing systems of course).
The best thing that ever happened to my daughter was flunking out of Paly in her junior year. She transferred to an independent school, got all A's while studying meaningful AP material that actually prepared her for college and her career, walked with her class and had a great experience.
Paly had little to offer--drug pushers waiting for lunch crowds to hook, pointless busy-work in class, stressed, hopeless peers, self-important but shallow teachers, and a manic schedule.
I think this is more widespread than just Algebra II, but they just got caught on this class.
I have over heard teens talk about this for several years.
The teachers need to stop turning a blind eye and tell the students straight out that no form of cheating will be tolerated including using (re-working) past essay exams or works obtained from the internet.
Teachers should warn the entire class that if they cheat, actions will be taken against them which could severely affect their future plans.
How unfortunate. My kids are slated for Paly. I no longer want to send them there. I will try to send them to Gunn. It seems the cheating is pervasive and not much being done about it to protect honesty.
Gunn is no better than Paly. With all the kids of Stanford professors attending, such scandals rarely, if ever, make the headlines; it is hushed up in a hurry. However, the kids do talk, and I have heard about this for what seems like eons. Smart phones and the internet make it almost impossible to control.
Extreme pressure from foreign parents to get Into top American universities makes it rampant
This is not just about cheating, it's also about lazy teachers. Simple ways to make cheating difficult -
Have multiple versions of the same test, just put the problems/questions in a different order.
Stand in the back of the room watching the class.
Walk around the classroom during the test.
Don't let the students use their phones as calculators, have them use real, school owned calculators.
If completing the test quickly is a red flag, put a time stamp/write the time turned in on the answer key.
Require students to show their work.
In addition, many teachers need an attitude change regarding testing. The point is to see what the students have learned (aka what you should have taught them). Too many teachers seem to think the point of testing is to trick the kids and stump them.
I love the parents blaming the teachers instead of the students. You should probably look at yourselves for improper parenting as well.
Be happy this was caught early on where the repercussions seem minimal in this instance. Universities wont just slap you on the hand. They will be expel your child.
No surprises here. Cheating using cell phones has been going on for years. Nevertheless, cell phones are still allowed in classrooms. The students are supposed to turn them off. LOL. (How the heck are teachers supposed to deal with it when discipline can scarcely be enforced?) Cell phones should be prohibited in classrooms--no exceptions. If there's an emergency, the family can contact the school office. It is ridiculous to continue to allow cell phones, but schools are too scared to stand up to students, parents, and, let's not forget, cell phone companies. Why can't schools block cell phone reception-- at least during class time. Break time could be okay, however drug deals would still happen then.
It IS about the parents and the example set for the kids. Threatening to kick them out of the house if they don't get an A in math would drive any good kid to cheat.
@megan -I'm not blaming the teachers, my point is the teachers fail to act as a deterrent to cheating. They should provide appropriate supervision during tests and finals and make it difficult to cheat. As this incident shows, lots of innocent students are paying a penalty for the cheating of others. Teachers should supervise their classrooms or they shouldn't be surprised if students cheat in such a high stakes school district (Just like parents shouldn't be surprised if their kids have a party if they are gone for the weekend), they are kids.
Regarding cell phones - I don't know why students couldn't simply not have anything on their desk except a writing implement, the test and perhaps a calculator. My son's college finals are like that, everything must go under your chair, the teacher even makes them swap their blue books for ones she has stamped (she uses theirs for another class). He also has found that his college professors teach the material that they test on and test to see if the students have learned the material - not to simply trick them.
> I don't know why students couldn't simply not have anything on their desk except a writing implement,
When I was in college there was a group that would sit in the back of the room and kick their books open with their feet. People are pretty good at figuring out ways to cheat ... so the real challenge is to change the way they teach so that tests are done in a way that prevents cheating - however that can be done.
There should be enough uniformity in the testing procedure that it can be used anywhere, and it should be clever enough that if you can game the system and cheat you have still learned whatever it was that you need to know - then no point in cheating.
I think a lot of teachers in order to create questions that are hard have to hold back teaching certain things, put the on the test and then impose a curve to buoy up their select students.
Face it a lot of corruption and corrupt mentality begins in school.
The was a book back about 10 years ago, maybe more, called "Our Cheating Culture" that talked about all the way people cheat. Families have their kids tested for things like dyslexia so they can get a little more time on the tests or some help. Seems that some people have no shame and no conscience. These also just might be the people who have risen to run our country in the last 2 generations.
According to the Census, in 2010, in Palo Alto,nearly 80% have 4-year degrees or higher. This makes competition more rigorous. So a student who would ace classes elsewhere is doomed to "B"s and "C"s. This affects GPAs, thus college acceptances. Sure, colleges receive the school profile with applications, but GPAs are still the bottom line. Teachers should not have so much power over the future of these children. Some teachers only assign 2-6 "A"s per class, and to earn those "A"s, students must not blink! Yes, TWO!
There is no way to completely extinguish cheating because whether the questions are mixed up or not, students can still tell other students about questions on the tests. The most basic form of curbing cheating is to have the teacher watch the students take the test - duh!
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