FIRST PERSON | Stuyvesant High School in New York has produced Nobel laureates and in 2010 was ranked by US News and World Report as one of America's best science and math high schools .
I imagine their ratings are about to slip. After a smartphone cheating scandal in which a 16 year-old boy used his phone to take and text photos of the test and answers, 71 students who received and responded to the texts had their exams voided and will be allowed to retake the test, according to the Huffington Post.
In my classroom, cheating results in a zero for both the cheater and the accomplice. It is wrong to teach children that it's an acceptable practice to both cheat off another and let them cheat off of you. This is often a hard lesson to learn, especially for the victim who allowed someone to copy their homework, look at their paper, or give them answers to a test they took the previous period.
When I proctored the SAT test last year, the directions stated that I was to check IDs and confiscate all cell phones upon entry, so I followed suit. When my daughter took the SAT at a different high school, neither of those rules were upheld. It's no wonder that in our increasingly competitive college entrance system, kids will take any opening to get a better score, even if it includes breaking rules.
The bottom line is that cheating is wrong, and to endorse it by allowing a "do over" teaches the Stuyvesant High School students that the rules don't apply to them. They can break laws without penalties and life has double standards for the elite. Just because the technology is there to cheat doesn't mean that opportunity should override morals.
Instead, perhaps this incident could be used as an educator's teachable moment. What an opportune time to show kids that some mistakes have big consequences - like getting an F, or not earning college credit. Students could learn that honesty is more valuable than a test score, and that technology can have serious consequences when used incorrectly.
Jennifer Wolfe is a mom to a tween and a teen, as well as a middle school teacher in California. She has degrees in elementary and secondary education and has taught for 21 years.
- Stuyvesant High School