Cheating in high school soars

Surveys show that cheating in school — plagiarism, forbidden collaboration on assignments, copying homework and cheating on exams — has soared.

The latest national survey of 25,000 high school students by Dr. Donald McCabe of Rutgers found that more than 90 percent of the students said they had cheated in one way or another. This number has steadily risen since Dr. McCabe has been studying cheating. The percentage of students who copied from another student during tests grew from 26 percent in 1963 to 52 percent in 1993, and the use of crib notes during exams went from 6 percent to 27 percent. By the mid-1990s, only a small minority said they had never cheated, meaning that cheating had become part of the acceptable status quo.

Students of both genders and every demographic group cheat even though they know it is wrong.

The biggest determinant is not the values that students are exposed to at home, but peer norms at school. Students are under pressure to achieve high grade-point averages, which helps them rationalize their behavior. And the schools themselves are complicit, because they reward high grades more than the process of learning — while too often turning a blind eye to the cheating.

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Ira S Wolfe