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Exam cheating rampant in America too

Posted by Administrator on January 3, 2012

Reports of rampant cheating on standardised tests in the summer of 2011 by schools across the United States may surprise Kenyans who have a  lofty image of US institutions.

Cheating there is more widespread than portrayed by the media.

Citing pressure to meet the federal ‘‘No Child Left Behind’’ mandate requiring schools to meet rigorous performance benchmarks, teachers and administrators routinely erased wrong answers on student papers, and replaced them with the correct ones.

In other incidents, teachers allowed students to copy answers from one another.

Suspected exam violations were reported in the states of Maryland, Georgia, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania and Texas.

Departments of education in all these states take matters of examination irregularities seriously, and those implicated face severe penalties.

For instance, the certificates of some teachers named in the Georgia scandal were revoked for two years, while administrators’ licences were permanently revoked.

For Kenyan students, suspicion of involvement in cheating leads to cancellation of one’s test results. It’s not entirely surprising if test results of an entire school are cancelled due to alleged irregularities.

In a stark contrast with their US counterparts, teachers and principals at the centre of the scandals in Kenya march away scot-free, or the consequences, if any, are not widely reported in the media.

In a survey by Donald McCabe, a lead researcher and professor at Rutgers University, New Jersey, students at US institutions of higher learning cheat on tests, homework and assignments.

Bill Bowers conducted the first large-scale study of cheating among US colleges and university students in early 1960s. In 1964, he reported that three fourths of more than 5,000 students ‘‘had engaged in one or more incidents of academic dishonesty’’.

In the most recent study, McCabe surveyed more than 14,000 undergraduate students. Two thirds of respondents admitted cheating.

Students easily cut and paste passages and articles from the Internet. Sites like cheathouse.com, cheater.com, schoolbytes.com and many others offer downloadable papers for a fee.

Rapid developments in technology pose a challenge to authorities and individuals responsible for combating the trend. Luckily, software companies have developed plagiarism-detection systems to counter cheating attempts.

Turnitin.com is just what colleges and professors need. No wonder prominent colleges and universities in the US and Europe constitutes its core clientele. Other sites include checkforplagiarism.net, scanmyessay.com and writecheck.com.

Pressure to secure a spot in top colleges, or enrol in coveted programmes has prompted students to cheat on college entrance tests such as ACT, SAT and GMAT.

Back in Kenya, it’s common knowledge that some students, parents, teachers, exam supervisors, and others engage in cheating every year.

It’s definitely encouraging that cases of exam malpractices are down 1.5 per cent compared to last year, but the Kenya National Examinations Coucil must constantly devise measures that will ensure test integrity once and for all.

Mr Edward Musungu, a former teacher, is a recent graduate student from the University of Nairobi, while Mr Amos Wasike is an educator based in Baltimore, United States


One Response to “Exam cheating rampant in America too”

  1. Student said

    Ofcourse its worse in stato…same exams same teachers,same syllabus,naijas in the mix…..no reasonto fail.there are no cops guarding the exams like kcse.

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