Westlake High School: A Community Struggling in Academic Ethics

February 6, 2019

“ Man, our high school is just wack. Everyone be cheating. Everyone be juuling. I feel if cheating continues to be this pervasive, our high school will not be a good place for learning and education.”

— Terry Zheng

Over the past years, the prevalence of cheating at Westlake High School has risen to unprecedented rates. With such ubiquity, many teachers, staff members and students have expressed their concern about the offense. “Every time we take a quiz, I see people looking at other classmate’s answer or fumbling with things that they should not be. There is not a quiz where I do not think that there are people cheating, “ says Mindy Clark, Westlake High School’s English and Public speaking teacher.

Richard Garber, a junior at Westlake High School, estimates that 7 to 8% of students have cheated at some point in high school.

What initially seemed to be a minor offense, has now evolved into a much larger and more organized system. With the rise of technology, many students and staff members have pointed out that students have found ways to access old pictures and quizzes that are reused yearly.

Students have found ways circulate copies of tests through social media and simply send them through large group chats. Other students also claim that some classmates have even gone out of their way to make quizlets that contain exact questions and answers from tests of previous years.

With this innovation of technology, cheating has persisted throughout the recent years and has also allowed some students to remain undetected.

Though cheating may result in better grades for students, many are concerned that it creates a community that struggles in academic ethics. Having a poor attitude toward academics ethics can also negatively affect our views on morality- the separation between what is right and what is wrong. Terry Zheng, an aspiring musical artist and rapper, expresses his frustration, stating “Man, our high school is just wack. Everyone be cheating. Everyone be juuling. I feel if cheating continues to be this pervasive, our high school will not be a good place for learning and education.”

“When you cheat, you are sacrificing your pride and your guilt at this school. You know? People lose respect for you. It’s rough,” continues Terry Zheng.

John Horwatt expresses similar concerns, stating  “My immediate reaction when I see kids cheating is that I just feel bad for them. A lot of times they don’t need to. It is just sad to see students lose their self-confidence to do it on their own.”

These alarming rates of cheating reflect upon both the educational system and approaches that students take toward school.“ I think it is just more of students not wanting to put in the work and just want to take the easier route- cheating. From the student’s perspective, they feel too much pressure to get good grades from parents and colleges, “ says Mindy Clark, an English teacher at Westlake High School.

Many others have also pointed out that having an education system that is too grade oriented can have a factor in the pervasive role of cheating. This factor not only encourages cheating but also allows cheating to persist, despite the risk of discipline students face when caught cheating. “Some students are willing to do anything to succeed or pass a class, even if that means taking unethical actions,” says a student from Westlake High School.

The idea of striving for academic excellence can be a positive influence- it motivates students to study and work harder. However, when grades are prioritized over learning, this grade-oriented education system can have a factor in the prevalence of cheating, especially the high value of grades and GPA on college applications.

If educators and legislators are able to create an education system that can place less emphasis on grades and more on learning, this reformed education system will certainly help deter the prevalence of cheating. Through this system, the value of grades will be valued less while education and knowledge will be prioritized more. Thus, students have had less incentive to cheat, and engagement in the material and learning will soar.

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