Using Technology to Cheat on Tests

Recently in New York City in a highly competitive, prestigious public school, seventy students were involved in the use of smartphone-enabled cheating. The cheating involved several state exams and was uncovered after a cellphone was confiscated from a 16-year-old junior during a citywide language exam. Cellphones are not permitted in city schools, and when officials looked into the student’s phone, they found a trail of text messages, including photos of test pages, that suggested pupils had been sharing information about state Regents exams while they were taking them.

Sixty-nine students had received the messages and responded to them.  All of the students will have to retake the exams, and the one whose phone was confiscated, who was said to be at the center of the cheating network, faces possible suspension and may have to transfer to another school by fall, the department said. Four other students involved in the cheating could also face suspension, a spokeswoman said.

Cheating on tests has been around since schools have been around.  But modern technology has made it easier to do so. Officials in Houston uncovered widespread cheating on an English final exam by students at a well-regarded school.  Hundreds of students were believed to be involved, and 60 were disciplined. An SAT cheating scandal on Long Island last year, in which test takers used fake IDs to impersonate other students, led to nationwide changes in the way college admissions exams are administered.

There is a great deal of pressure being exerted on students to succeed in order to get into “good” college.  But that is not an excuse.  What has been an on-going problem is that high-test scores have become the emphasis rather than valuing learning.