Policy on cheating will work

Newfoundland and Labrador’s largest school board has taken flak for a new policy that prevents teachers from assigning zeros when students are caught cheating.

The Eastern School District’s policy has been criticized as too lenient because cheaters are given a second chance to retake assignments and tests. It’s applicable to both elementary and high school students.

If a school’s primary goal is to teach students course material, then this policy is a positive policy change. A student is more likely to cheat if they don’t have an adequate understanding of a subject, and giving them a mark of zero for cheating makes no attempt remedy this.

Knowledge must be favoured over punishment in order to prevent students from facing long-term intellectual inadequacies.

Removing the academic penalties of cheating hasn’t affected the disciplinary consequences. A student caught cheating is still subject to detention or suspension. Cheating has social consequences that are more impactful than academic ones.

Peers will think less of those who are cheaters. It’s embarassing. This policy gives students who cheat the chance to explain their motivations and will lead to a more positive outcome than a ruined transcript.

Cheating because of sickness or personal struggle shouldn’t be treated in the same way as cheating due to laziness. Teachers can give students a second chance to prove themselves and learn the course material.

The school board policy isn’t aimed at giving an advantage to cheaters, but instead it’s meant to help those who are already struggling.

It’s a policy that should be implemented carefully in order to stop students from strategically cheating.

Students caught cheating should be kept under close watch; there should be severe consequences when a student cheats on a second-round assignment or test; and guards need to be in place to prevent students from cheating once with the intent to retake a test and do better.

Most importantly, honest students shouldn’t suffer from this policy. Work that is a result of serious effort needs to be rewarded above that of someone who cheated on their first try. It could mean deducting marks on second-round assignments or tests.

A principle of honesty is highly important to the learning process, but so is making sure that students have learned the curriculum. The Eastern School District’s policy prioritizes education over punishment.

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