Thursday, February 11, 2010

Catching a cheater

I always have mixed feelings after catching kids cheating on tests and quizzes. While I always feel like I have awesome detective skills (I love a "Gotcha!" moment), after that initial thrill I am always left feeling insulted, really, you didn't think I'd figure out these are copied answers?

I was grading vocabulary quizzes last night. I graded one quiz, with some really bogus answers. Not only were there misspellings all over the place, but weird answers to the sentence completion section. (Really? The best answer to: Where are you going to go after you finish high school is "The Airport"? We did learn the word "University" ya know...) I finished grading the quiz, and this person ended up with a very low score. I moved on to the next in the stack, the front started off okay, but once I flipped to the back a pattern had emerged. The same bogus answers as the quiz I had just graded. Wow...really? Unless you two are going on the same post graduation trip after you finish high school, I doubt this is just a coincidence.

I was fully dramatic today as I gave back quizzes. I announced, "Some of you won't be getting a quiz back as your answers suspiciously matched another students answers." There were many anxious looks. I followed with "If you'd like to plead your case, come see me at the end of the period to please your case." The two girls came up, asking for their quizzes. They seemed so appalled that I would suspect them of cheating. So appalled. They whined about it and said "So that's it, we're getting a zero?" I told them I'd be calling their parents and that we would finish the conversation tomorrow, since my next class was coming in.

How do you handle cheating? I'm considering allowing them to re-take the quiz to see what answers they each come up with.


Theresa Milstein said...

When I was an assistant, I had that problem when I gave the test to my Social Studies class. I spoke with the lead teacher and the assistant principal. We decided to let each of them take it again, separately. It became pretty clear who copied off of whom. The cheater was watched more closely during tests for the rest of the year.

NYC Educator said...

I would perhaps speak to the kids, figure out the grade, and offer half each for the collaborative effort. The cheater will likely fess up. I would not give the cheater a second chance in any case. I would contact the parents and tell them a recurrence would necessitate a mandatory school visit. I would express concern about their busy schedules and how inconvenient that would be, and hope aloud that it wouldn't prove necessary.

I would not bother my AP or anyone. I would handle it myself and implicitly let every kid in the class know that such behavior would incur my wrath, a viable entity they should avoid at all costs.

Elouise Tomás said...

I had them each retake the test like you did Theresa, and it did become clear who was cheating off of whom.

It's impossible now to tell if she was allowed to cheat off of the other girl's paper. She'll be getting a zero, and be watched closely.

I love your idea NYC Educator for giving them each half the grade. I'm going to do that next time.

Mr. W said...

I have done both ways. I let them retake it once and let them keep their new grades and I have also just flat given zeros and said too bad.

I take cheating personally and they know it. i have no problem telling all on my colleagues who they are and that they are cheaters. It might seem harsh, but since I have been more open about what I do cheating on tests has gone down. Not totally gone, but less each year.

Elouise Tomás said...

Mr. W,

I also tell my colleagues, and after some time it seems that it's the usual suspects time and again.

I'm looking forward to the time when word has gotten out about my cheating policy and there are fewer to deal with. There aren't that many now...but still, like you said, I also take it personally.