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Try This - Stop Cheating!

Wise ways to keep kids honest.

Found in: Classroom Management

“Okay, class, what were the effects of Roosevelt’s New Deal?”Johanna starts off with a textbook answer from last night’s assigned reading. Raoul joins in with a healthy dose of analysis. And Brianna … well, she seems a little clueless. And it’s not the first time.

But on the test, her work rates a solid A.

Is she a latent genius—or is something more nefarious going on?

Student cheating is nothing new, but the Internet and cell phones offer students more opportunities for dishonesty.

Fear not. There are lots of ways to thwart cheaters.

Review Expectations

The first assignment of the semester is a plagiarism WebQuest I found on the Internet (Google “PAMS Plagiarism WebQuest”). Students complete a paper answer sheet for 100 quiz points. If a parent signs the completed sheet, the score increases by 15 points. I keep the sheet on file. If I can prove plagiarism on a later assignment, the student receives a zero and detention. Parents tend to stop fussing when I pull out the answer sheet with their signature.

Stephanie M. Lewis
High school English teacher
South Pittsburg, Tennessee

Mess with the Tests

Make multiple versions of the test so kids cannot copy from one another’s papers during the test.

Carol Sanders
High school English teacher
Belgrade, Minnesota

When you make multiple versions, put them on different colored paper. If you ever don’t have time to create multiple versions, you can just use several colors of paper and students will not know whether there is only one version of the test.

David Taylor
Physics teacher
San Jose, California

I punch holes on the sides of my tests. When I wander around the room as tests are being taken, I look to see the surface of the desk through the holes. If I see paper instead of the desk, I know the study guide is hidden underneath.

Spencer Holmes
Brentwood, California

Try a Cheat-Proof Assessment Model

Use performance-based assessment. Students may work cooperatively during the planning process but each receives an individual grade for his or her presentation or written work.

Elle Green
Louisville, Kentucky

When Cheating Happens Send a Message

When I discovered cheating, usually on a homework assignment, I divided the grade by the number of children whose assignments were identical. I told them, if they share the work, they should share the grade. Word got around.

Christine Snyder 
Buffalo, New York

Give them a Second Chance

Take the student out into the hall and say, “Charles, I don’t think you are ready to take this test today. I’m going to have you take a makeup test in a day or two. This time, study and be prepared. I need your honest answers so I can give you a fair grade.” This establishes trust in me as a caring teacher, one who can be approached for help.

Robert Emerson 
High school English teacher
San Francisco, California

Give Them the Crib Sheet

Nearly all of my tests are open-note and open-book. I usually use essay questions asking students to apply what they know, evaluate what they have read, and synthesize material. On the rare occasions when part of a test is simple recall, I let students bring a 3×5 card with any notes they can squeeze onto it.

As they review the material to decide what might be important, they are actually studying!

Elaine Fedderke
Defiance, Ohio

Location, Location, Location

I monitor test takers from the back of the classroom to catch stray eyeballs or suspicious hand movements.

Ed Groth
Mountain Top, Pennsylvania

Cut It Off at the Source

I hold my students responsible for keeping their papers covered. When I see answers uncovered, I quietly place a small square of red paper on the student’s desk as a warning. A second square means a point is deducted.

Susan Reid
Middle school math teacher
Olive Branch, Mississippi.

Fight Copying with Technology

My students would copy work before school, so I began using my blog to post questions related to readings. Students are required to post their responses via “Comments,” which are time-stamped, so I can easily read and compare them.

Chris Miraglia
Eighth-grade history teacher
Lakewood, California

Trick ‘Em

I made copies of students’ test papers, recorded the grades, and then handed the papers back saying, “I did not have time to grade these papers so this will be a test of honesty for you.” Those who self-corrected and came up with the true grade got an A regardless of what they earned. Those who cheated got a zero. The graded papers were then handed back. Since they never knew if I would do this again, cheating diminished. I called every parent and let them know the results and asked them to praise their children’s honesty or talk about cheating.

Cecelia S.
Retired teacher and guidance counselor
Greensboro, Georgia

I grade the work. Then I put a zero on the paper and ask them to get a parent to sign it and to write a page explaining what they intend to do to correct the problem. When I get both, I reinstate the grade. That way, the parents have no reason to complain about a zero. And the student is empowered to choose his or her own consequences.

Joseph Chiang
Covington, Virginia



When in Doubt, Let it Go…

If you are not absolutely certain that cheating occurred, let it go. There is nothing worse than a dispute about whether a student cheated or not. Make a mental note to watch the suspect more closely in the future.

Carol Sanders
High school English teacher
Belgrade, Minnesota

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