While I focused on area construction jobs in my story on the front of The Star last Sunday, the Life section also featured my work — a localization of all of the recent national talk about cheating in schools.
Here’s an excerpt:
“¿Puedo ir al bano?
That’s “Can I go to the bathroom?” in Spanish — the only phrase that a local high school senior really remembers from his two years of foreign language class.
The 17-year-old took the course during his sophomore and junior years.
For homework, he and his classmates had to translate English sentences into Spanish — or vice versa. They were supposed to first attempt the work themselves, he said, without any help.
Instead, everyone “cheated,” and nobody learned much more than the basic phrases.
“Everyone just used Google translator,” he admitted. “Most everyone did it — at least once or twice — including myself.”
(The Star is not identifying the student in order to protect his chances of getting into college.)
Cheating among students has been a hot topic in recent months with proof of widespread dishonest behavior surfacing at well-known institutions like Harvard and the Air Force Academy.
Also contributing to the conversation are several recent studies that show students across the country are cheating more than ever before — especially as new technology becomes increasingly available.
Administrators and teachers in Calhoun County say they haven’t seen a significant increase in cheating in recent years. And education officials think their institutions have clear “academic honesty” policies in place.
Still, some local and national experts say cheating isn’t always a black-and-white issue, especially with the prevalence of new technology.
“Just like in sports, you have to define the rules on what you’re able to do,” said Mark Jones, judicial coordinator for Jacksonville State University.
Nationally, 60 percent of high school students admit to some form of cheating, according to a 2010 survey by the Josephson Ethics Institute.
Locally, school officials say cheating isn’t a big problem.
At JSU, Jones said, the judicial affairs committee only sees about five cases of academic dishonesty each year.
In Calhoun County schools, superintendent Joe Dyar cited only one instance of cheating — at White Plains Middle School — that he remembered occurring in the past year.
Meanwhile, the Donoho Honor Council has not met at all this year to deal with any suspect student behavior, council sponsor Beverly Otwell said. Otwell, an English teacher at the Anniston private school, said it’s been years since someone plagiarized in her class.
Anniston City Schools Superintendent Joan Frazier said cheating happens in her school system but didn’t have numbers on how often it occurred.
Repeated attempts last week to reach officials at Oxford and Jacksonville city schools were unsuccessful.
“Unfortunately, we have to be vigilant about the possibility of cheating,” Frazier said. “It takes place everywhere.”
Read more:Anniston Star – 50 shades of cheating Defining right and wrong in the digital age