Jump to content

One third of senior class caught cheating with cell phones

Recommended Posts


By Lauren Roth

The Virginian-Pilot

July 14, 2009



The world of crib sheets and scribbled notes under hat brims has collided with the realm of technology. And one local school is dealing with the fallout.


Dozens of seniors at Bishop Sullivan High School used cell phones cradled near their pockets to share answers to a test in the last weeks of school.


In the end, a third of the members of the senior class were punished by an honor court of their peers. And half a dozen saw their memberships in the National Honor Society revoked.


Matthew Smith, 19, who graduated from Bishop Sullivan this spring, said he heard or saw at least two students text messaging during the test on modern forms of government, the last before exams.


"I didn't know they were texting all the multiple choice questions. I thought they were just asking for help," a more routine occurrence, Smith said.


At least 30 of the 100 seniors at the close-knit Catholic school cheated, said Principal Dennis Price. The test was given in several class sections over the course of the day.


The case illustrates educators' concerns about cell phones as a tool for dishonesty. A survey last month of more than 1,000 middle- and high schoolers found that 83 percent have cell phones. Among that group, more than a third admit using them to cheat in school. The survey also found that fewer than half of the students think texting answers during a test is a serious offense. A San Francisco non profit called Common Sense Media commissioned the survey.


"It's not that with cell phones a new thing is happening," said Dan Wueste, director of the ethics institute at Clemson University. "All that's changed is the technology."


Price said a Bishop Sullivan student alerted the administration to the widespread cheating.


While disappointed by the behavior, "they're still kids," Price said. "They do dumb things. The objective is that they learn now." He said student and staff orientations this August will address the incident.


Punishments were individualized by the honor court, and many of the students received a zero grade for the test and demerits on their record.


Another spring graduate, Paige Dwyer, 18, said cheating was allowed to persist for too long. "This wasn't the first time. It just involved more people."


She said it bothered her to see students accept awards at graduation only a few weeks after cheating. Several students described being part of a senior class praised as among the best. However, some turned a blind eye to requests for tips or clues about tests as their high school careers drew to a close.


Like most local schools, Bishop Sullivan forbids student use of cell phones during the day. But cell phone policies seem to make little difference in student behavior. According to the Common Sense poll, 63 percent of students in schools that ban cell phones use them, and 66 percent use phones in schools that require them to be turned off.


Wueste said that while cell phones have made cheating easier, prevention can be simpler as well. "Make them check them at the door," the ethicist said.


Price said the school will not turn into "Big Brother" as a result of the cheating. "We're just going to be more vigilant, that's all."


This was the first school year for a new honor code and peer judging council, both developed with input from students. The honor pledge states: "On my honor, I will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor will I give or receive unauthorized assistance on any work. I will expect the same of my peers."


Price said he's disappointed by the students' behavior, but realistic. "Going in, we didn't expect it to change everything in one year," he said. "Our goal is to make sure it won't happen because students won't put up with it."


Caitlyn Pugsley, 18, a member of the Class of 2009, said she felt hurt by her classmates' behavior but said the administration's reaction was appropriate. "Being at a Catholic school, we teach the forgiveness thing," she said. "Everyone deserves to be forgiven."



Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 37
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Yah, signal jammers would be a great thing...


Except they're illegal. Not kosher to interfere with someone else's radio signal, eh? Otherwise I reckon we'd all be settin' up jammers on FM stations that broadcast rap music. ;)




Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah the phones are supposed to be turned off! Try policing that though. Would be one thing if parents were a little more willing to play along and refuse to let the kids take the phones to school in the first place, but as it is, they're not. Parents call their kids during classes! They get upset at teachers who take the phones away from kids. Teachers signed on to teach, not to patrol for errant cell phone users. It gets discouraging sometimes.


I know the objection - "but what if there's a family emergency and I need to reach Johnny???" to which my answer is, then call the school office and tell them about it. Or at the very least, give kids one chance. If they get caught misusing the phone during the day, parents (not the school) should take it away. Ya know, be parental about it!


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ya mean ya want the parents to be parents and not their kids friends, Lisabob? WOW! That is radical!


Then you have a rule anyone caught will have their phone confiscated & turned over to the local police department who will tun them into phones for the elderly. Not caught using their phone. Caught having a phone. If mom & dad need to get a hold of their little precious they can call the school office.(This message has been edited by evmori)

Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't get a signal in my office due to the building construction. Do I have a right to demand they fix that? I think a copper screen placed above the drop ceiling in every classroom would do the trick. Expensive, tho.


A better solution would be to just expel them and not issue them a diploma. Especially a private school! You want a diploma, go take the GED test. Try pulling this at Annapolis or West Point and try to get "forgiveness".


The funny thing is this school charges more than $10 grand a year tuition, which parents gladly pay to shield their kids from "those bad influences in the public schools", as a co-worker told me. I reminded him that he was referring to me and MY kids. As Pogo would say, "we have met the bad influences, and they is us!"


As one commenter noted, "a coupla Nuns with wooden rulers would have this nonsense straightened out in a day!"(This message has been edited by scoutldr)

Link to post
Share on other sites

So much for the very overated and overpriced Catholic School system. I taught at a very prestigious catholic high school for a couple of years and this story is nothing compared to some of the situations I watched go down, cheating wise. The kids I taught came from homes with six and seven figure annual family incomes. You noticed that none of the kids were expelled or forced to repeat the class, hmmm, thats because school leaders didn't want to lose any of the parents annual financial contributions.


scoutldr, the problem is that nuns for the most part are gone in this country, or are very old, or are not involved in teaching(they wised up real fast, lol).(This message has been edited by BadenP)

Link to post
Share on other sites

St. Augustine HS in New Orleans still makes parents sign a waiver allowign corporal punichment, no waiver, no attend St. Aug. I am told every classroom has a paddle in it, and one techer I met at a local MDA camp had a paddle that he wore all the time that some of his students had given him as a thank you gift for being and excellent teacher and mentor.


Ah the days of discipline!

Link to post
Share on other sites

continuing thread hijack....


I dare say, that if any teacher hit my kid with a paddle, I'd be at their door the next morning with my own paddle and return the favor. Nobody touches my kid. That's MY responsibility.


I never needed to hit my kids. I had a more powerful tool - a lecture. A 10-15 minute lecture followed up by loss of a privilege did more for discipline in my clan than any physical punishment. My daughter was about 6ish one time and halfway thru my speech she just asked 'Dad why don't you just spank me please and get this over?'. Ahhh. I love the smell of success in the morning.



Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 weeks later...

My wife works at a Lutheran high school ,policy is they have to leave their phones in the lockers ,my wife takes them if they have them in class ,but the parents have a fit if you do that so the new policy is they take them and the parents have to come in to pick them up.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah yes. I am old enough to remember when using a calculator, especially one with a memory function, was considered cheating. Now they are required.


Note: I am NOT saying cheating with cell phones is OK. But banning them wont work either. They are too ubiquitous.


I am afraid appeals to ethics wont work.


One quick, cheap way to stop this: Quit giving multiple-choice or true-false tests. It is easy to text a few letters. How do you text the answer to an essay question?


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...