June 9, 2017

Cheating a Privilege?

Aryeh Lande ‘18

Nothing, perhaps, spurs more passionate opinions among the GOA student body than the broad topic of grades. More so, every student has at least one complaint about the grading systems and tools implemented by the school in one class or another. Among these grievances, the issues of extended time and computer privileges typically top the list.
Extended time and computer privileges are school-sanctioned programs that are said to carry careful vetting, requiring teacher input, specific tests from other professionals, like therapists and a planned process to follow over months. These policies were implemented by the school in this new age of education to level the playing field for all students when it comes to tests. Think affirmative action for assessments.
The validity of the claim that extended time is only given to deserving students is questionable at best, however, given the seemingly ever-shrinking number of students taking regularly-timed tests, come midterms and finals.
On a more serious note, in regard to extended time, many students relish the extension of assessments and claim it helps them immensely. Still, recently some students exploited or cheated the system, causing the administration to rightfully respond by finding new approaches to such a weighted issue.
After much experimentation, the old system of granting students the ability to complete tests in the Test Make-Up room was slowly reinstated over the condensation of tests to allow everyone to finish within one class period. While the administration prefers the status quo over the more radical alternatives that have recently been tried, there is still progress being made. That progress is in the form of dialogue, the foundation of every resolution.
Nevertheless, extended time’s long-lost cousin, computer privileges, remains controversial and is not discussed nearly enough. These granted rights are more unjust to other students than extended time. The ability to come back to a test or take a quiz for 15 more minutes may provide a slight advantage, but with the freedom to use a computer for assessments, a skilled user will have the entirety of the internet at their disposal. Some teachers are not tech-savy enough to understand when cheating may occur.It does not seem like there is enough teacher enforcement in the classroom over cyber-cheating, as there is on major tests like midterms and finals.
There is very little discussion right now, as GOA enters a new era in which there is such an emphasis on technology for learning, to ensure that future students do not abuse this rather open system.
It makes complete sense that students should use a computer for notes in class or for an essay when they have a hard time writing, but for assessments dealing with memorization, the use of personal computers should be forbidden. Such a restriction would level the playing field for all students, but by using school-issued computers, a teacher could ensure that the student is accountable and that their test answers are honorable. If needed, a teacher could require a student to take the assessment with the computer facing the proctor, with the WiFi off and even check the search history after the exam.
These are not abusive measures to pressure kids against applying for computer privileges and in no way will it hurt those who use the system honestly. Rather, smart protocol will add integrity to the digital era.

Implementing techniques to check students’ behavior will ultimately help the class, teacher and even the student. These demands may be tedious and require advanced planning, but just like extended time, discussion about computer privileges must open up. If not, the school will stagnate in its efforts to effectively modernize and will lose to the deception of technology. With reasonable changes, special needs will be accommodated, grades will not suffer, teachers’ lives will be made easier and the GOA community as a whole will feel less divisive, with fewer incidents of cheating.

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