If students cheat, Wake expects them to make up the work honestly

The Wake County school board is working on an Honor Code policy to cover student cheating..
The Wake County school board is working on an Honor Code policy to cover student cheating..

Wake County schools could be required to develop plans on how to grade the assignments of students who make up work after they’re caught cheating.

Students would also be put on notice that cheating in class could result in not being allowed to play interscholastic sports.

Both items are part of a new Honor Code policy that would regulate how the district handles cases of cheating and plagiarism. The latest version, reviewed on Monday, attempts to address concerns raised by board members about what schools should do if they lower the grades of students who are caught cheating.

“You will do the work in an ethical and appropriate manner,” said school board chairman Jim Martin. “That’s the standard.”

The new wording presented Monday allows schools to reduce the grades of cheaters. But the policy also says that, when reasonably possible, students will be expected to complete the assignment, or do an alternative assignment, “in an honest manner.”

The question of whether students would get full, partial or no credit for the makeup work would depend on grading guidelines that are developed by professional learning teams of teachers at each school. The guidelines would have to be approved by the principal.

The grading guidelines would take into account the age of the student, how often they’ve violated the Honor Code and the severity of the violation.

The new wording attempts to address concerns some board members have raised about whether the Honor Code is inconsistent with the district’s grading policy, which says grading can’t be punitive. The new wording also attempts to address concerns from other board members who say students shouldn’t get a get-out-of-jail free card for serious cases of cheating.

“This draft represents what we feel like is a good balance,” said Brian Pittman, senior director of high school programs. “Finding a balance between consistency and flexibility.”

The school board’s policy committee will review the Honor Code next week. The full board hopes to approve the Honor Code in June, with it going into effect for the 2019-20 school year.

The Honor Code is part of a series of changes that would result in out-of-school suspensions being reserved for serious violations of cheating and plagiarism. Schools would use other forms of action to discipline students for most Honor Code violations, such as taking away school privileges, including athletics, honors and awards.

Athletics hadn’t been mentioned in prior drafts as a specific privilege that could be taken away.

Out-of-school suspensions for Honor Code violations would be used in cases of “falsification and deceit.” Examples cited in the policy are:

Falsifying another person’s name on a school-related document such as a test or report.

Buying or selling test questions or answers.

Copying secure test materials and providing the materials to others.

Paying for or receiving anything of value to complete a school assignment.

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T. Keung Hui has covered K-12 education for the News & Observer since 1999, helping parents, students, school employees and the community understand the vital role education plays in North Carolina. His primary focus is Wake County, but he also covers statewide education issues.