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Academic Cheating - Solutions and Prevention

Sometimes issues will come out of the blue. Even in good families with sweet children, academic cheating can be a temptation. Cheating on tests, looking up answers for assignments, or plagiarizing a paper. Sometimes the dishonesty and cheating are minor, but sometimes they have lasted in secret for a year or more. While uncommon in the homeschooling realm, it does sometimes happen. There are things you can do once you recognize a problem and things everyone can do to prevent it from happening in the first place.

What To Do When You Recognize the Problem

These are different options for parents when their high school student has been caught in massive, year-long cheating in all its glory.

1. Give credit for what was learned. This will require giving chapter-by-chapter tests in each subject, or subject tests for each subject. You can't measure credits by hours if the child is lying about how many hours they spend per subject. Normally I'm not a fan of tests, but in this case, it is the child's fault that testing is required. When they cheat, they give you no choice but to test to see what they know before giving credit.

2. Repeat the entire year of school, and completely start over in the fall. This depends on the scope of the problem - if it was every subject, then repeating the whole year makes sense. It's easiest to accomplish if the cheating occurred freshman year, or your child is very young for their grade level.

3. Repeat the entire class for each failed class, if the problem was limited in scope. This might work if the child cheated through 2-3 classes, but the rest of the work was done to your satisfaction.

4. Give a poor grade if you know the class was partly completed and partly cheated. Perhaps you might give a grade of C for subjects that were done well other than cheating. Perhaps you might give a grade of D for subjects that were done poorly but they learned something even though you are sure that there was some cheating. If it's worse than that, I don't recommend an F, I recommend repeating those classes.

How to Prevent the Problem 

1. Try to eliminate the causes of cheating. It could be a curriculum mismatch, using the wrong learning style. Perhaps the child isn't being challenged enough, or is overwhelmed by how hard one subject was, making it impossible to succeed. These issues cause frustration and the temptation to just cheat and get it over with. Double check that the curriculum matches your student's preferred learning style and isn't too easy or difficult for them.

2. Try to eliminate the cloak that prevents you from recognizing cheating. For many parents, excessive internet usage makes it hard to tell if your child is cheating or not. When they must be on the computer for school, and they are on the computer all the time, how can you know for sure they are doing school? Think about the amount of internet your student consumes and try to limit the number of subjects that are done online. Check out my book: TechnoLogic: How to Set Logical Technology Boundaries and Stop the Zombie Apocalypse.

3. Take daily action to make sure cheating doesn't happen. A daily check-in with your child will catch any problems before they become serious issues. While you may not remember to check EVERY day, if a daily check in is your goal, you'll notice a problem within a week if there is a big issue. Read this article to learn more about checking in daily with your child: Have a Morning Meeting.

Senior Year Cheating and Senioritis

Senior year is coming. Your student has worked hard for three years so far and is so close to graduating. Senior year is generally thought to be the most fun for the student, though this is not the case for everyone. For some students Senioritis hits hard. Senioritis is equivalent to spring fever but lasts the whole year. The student is eagerly and impatiently awaiting the day they will be free of high school. Hopefully by the start of senior year, the student will have finished the majority of their coursework and only have a few more credits to earn. This eagerness can easily lead to cheating and shortcuts. 

During senior year, the situation becomes more dire, and requires careful, thorough, and honest homeschool records. Without completing senior year classes, a college might withdraw applications and scholarships based on senior year performance. We have no guarantee what a university will do, and they may not even have a written policy. Decisions by the college could be made on a student-by-student basis, depending on multiple factors.

As a homeschool parent, your job is not to become involved with the decision by the university. Instead, your job is to honestly reflect student academics into the homeschool record. At the end of senior year, don't modify the curriculum, expectations, or requirements. Instead, give a grade and credit that is earned. Allow the student to experience the consequences of their own behavior. Better to experience those consequences in high school, and before college, rather than during college, when a huge financial investment has already been made.
Here is the solution to handle incomplete senior year classes.

1. Determine the number of lessons required for credit. Find the total number of lessons in the textbook. Estimate 90% of the lessons. That is your goal for the number of lessons.

2. Determine the date when all lessons must be completed and make your deadline for credit. Choose a day that is convenient for you, in June or early July, before the transcript must be submitted to college, or before graduation.

3. Determine the grade by using the test in the last lesson required as a final exam. The score on the test will indicate the final score for that class.
Give the grade and credit the student earns as a natural consequence, without feeling guilty. This is a difficult situation, for sure, but the student is responsible for completing their work. If they do not complete their work, they should not receive the credit.

Giving natural consequences like this will help the student accept adult responsibility for their own adult behavior in the future. Failing to give this natural consequence can lead to feelings of entitlement, and ultimately to poor work ethic.
Failing to provide an honest grade and credit on the transcript can have negative academic consequences. Beyond it being just a lie, it sets them up for failure in their college classes. Without having the prerequisite understanding of the subject, it becomes difficult to succeed in more advanced college classes, and almost impossible to earn excellent college grades.

This is a no judgement zone, if you would like to share your experiences, just leave a comment. Comments are moderated, so I won't let anyone say something harsh to you. If you would like to speak to someone in person, who will help and guide without judging, I'll be glad to talk to you! Consider joining the Gold Care Club so we can brainstorm together and find a way out of the problem together
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Sunday, 27 November 2022

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