With the advent of online curriculum, there certainly is a proliferation of web sites dedicated to posting answers to assessment questions. This is regrettable. While we have sent cease-and-desist letters to some of these sites, they have largely been unwilling to work with us to remove copyrighted content. (The outstanding exceptions are Quizlet and Brainly, which have been amazing partners in taking down answers whenever we report them-we do so every week.)
We completely understand the frustration any educator has in trying to establish anti-cheating policies and communicate their importance to students. Schools can look into lockdown browsers or other classroom computer management options. However, we also would encourage all schools to engage their staff in a discussion of the kinds of expectations they have set with students about cheating behavior. Do teachers explicitly explain that looking up answers during a test is cheating? What are the consequences when students do it? Are those consequences made clear to parents/guardians and students from the start of the year?
We believe that the most effective way to prevent cheating is to manage the students, not to manage the system. When you manage the system, the students generally find a new way to cheat. (Lock down the browser...they use their phone, disable copy/paste...they just type answers in.) When we try to design tools to stop students from cheating, all we teach them is to look for better ways to cheat. Given the number of stories we hear every day about professionals who lie on their resumes, academics who falsify their data, and corporate leaders who make questionable financial choices, it's clear that we're not doing enough in the early years to help students understand and value integrity. This is a perfect opportunity to do so.
What else can be done? Here are some next steps that we suggest:
- This guide might be helpful when considering the academic integrity policies at your school or district: Edgenuity Implementation Guide to Ensuring Academic Integrity.
- Check out some sample student contracts that your peers have offered up to edit: Sample Student Contracts.
- We also recommend Dan Ariely's excellent book The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, as a fantastic study in the behavioral economics behind cheating and a great resource for ideas that really work.