Personal integrity is worth more than grades altered by cheating


Evelyn Lillemoe

Cheating may seem easy, but it costs more than the potential bump to the grade.

95% of high school students report that they have cheated in some way, while 58% have admitted plagiarizing, and 64% have cheated on a test, according to a study done by the International Center for Academic Integrity. While it’s possible that these statistics are different at St. Paul Academy, it’s clear that cheating has become a normalized procedure used by students. The student awareness of cheating is disproportionately higher than the disciplinary action from cheating.

Although there are different levels of cheating, all forms of cheating are academic dishonesty, and students should be more sensitive to the effects of them.

While it’s probable that students cheat because they care about their grades, it also shows that they don’t necessarily care about their classmates and others’ success, and will be ill prepared for college, where cheating won’t be tolerated. When students cheat, others are at a disadvantage and feel frustrated that cheaters have a leg up on them. This is most prevalent when people share problems from tests with others that have not taken it yet. People do this so often that many people probably don’t regret it and wouldn’t consider it a legitimate form of cheating, even though it is explicitly referenced in the academic honesty policy. 

Even with continued reminders from teachers to refrain from talking about tests, and reiterated policy from the Council for Community Conduct, students continue to use this form of academic dishonesty because it’s so difficult for teachers to catch, and other students often don’t report it. 

It’s up for students to hold themselves and one another accountable for cheating. There should be a stigma around cheating to discourage students from doing it and actively discussing it. While students usually cheat because they didn’t have time to study, or had issues beyond their control, cheating cannot be the fallback.

The culture around cheating at SPA has to change to the point where it is no longer the norm, and where students would feel embarrassed or ashamed if they admitted to cheating.