School reviews claims of cheating

The Honor Board Review Committee is considering whether to bring any students before the Honor Board after a cheat sheet was discovered at the end of the last Geology midyear assessment in December. All Geology and Geology Honors students had to retake a section of that exam Jan. 6 and 7.

Geology teacher Wendy Van Norden said she found the cheat sheet at the end of the seventh period exam on Thursday Dec. 12 behind one of the rock trays in the back of the classroom where students were identifying rocks for the test. She does not know who brought it in, when it was brought in or who looked at the sheet. She believes that at least everyone in the last assessment period could have seen it but cannot be sure because she was in the front of the classroom busy with other trays of rocks during the assessment.

“I’m disappointed … that no one mentioned it during the test,” Van Norden said.

The “Rockathon” consists of three parts: identifying rocks by their name, determining if a rock is igneous, metamorphic or sedimentary and giving details about certain rocks. The sheet she found in the classroom was a study guide she handed out before the exam that would have allowed students to perfectly complete the second section, which was worth 25 percent of the exam. Students filed by the trays during the assessment to answer questions on the test. Because Van Norden said she had not left the sheet there herself, she believes that a student or students brought it in so they could cheat.

Van Norden discussed possible options with Head of Upper School Audrius Barzdukas, and both decided it would be best to have all students retake that portion of the exam.Van Norden notified students the first day they were back from break, Jan. 5, that they were going to retake the exam the following class, and hoped this would give them enough time to study.

Still, some students were upset about having to retake that section.

“It was heinous,” Nick O’Brien ‘17 said. “They made everybody redo it, and I ended up doing worse.”

Overall, the average on the retake was similar to the average before break, which is generally high, so Van Norden was especially surprised that people might have cheated on the assessment.

“I don’t want to bully people to find out who did it,” Van Norden said. “They know who they are. Hopefully, [the retake] didn’t hurt any bystanders or help those that cheated.”

The Honor Board Review Committee is currently investigating the case and deciding whether or not there are grounds for a case to be brought before the Honor Board.

“The circumstances under which there would be a case is if there has been a clear violation of the honor code, a clear violator and evidence that it has happened,” Honor Board administrative adviser Father J. Young said. “We always try to have a case as quickly as possible. Frankly to avoid, for whoever the people accused are, just the angst it causes to drag it on and on and on.”

Young has talked to members of the last period class individually as part of the investigation.

“He asked us what we knew of the situation and if we thought cheating had occurred,” Mary* ’17 said. “The meetings were short and to the point.”

Rasa Barzdukas ’17 said she was disappointed that someone might have cheated.

“It is a shame someone would do that to Ms. Van Norden,” Barzdukas said. “She is one of the fairest, most caring teachers I have, and that’s what makes me upset the most.”

*Names have been changed.

 

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