It’s time to crack down

Cynical as the view may seem, kids who want to cheat are going to cheat. A quasi policy that half suggests and half cajoles will not dissuade anyone bent on cheating from finding ways to get answers, without direct use of a cell phone.

If the administration truly wants to enforce the no-cell-phones-during-testing rule, they need to take a stronger and more steadfast view than an unenforceable request to leave cellular devices in cars or lockers. Kids who don’t listen to the request and bring their cell phones anyway aren’t punished at all, but are merely asked to leave those phones in their bags against the wall. And if they don’t even do that, they get yet another chance to leave the phones under the desk. This bestows too much leeway to students who blatantly ignore the “rule.”

Playing devil’s advocate (bearing in mind that I have never cheated in my life, except on a spelling test in second grade, and I admitted it to my teacher later), here are three things that could go wrong with this irresolute idea:

Students could claim to leave their cell phones in their lockers but actually leave them in the bathroom. They could then leave the testing room, take the phone from a bathroom stall and use it to text answers.

Students could keep their phones in their pockets by saying the phone is in the bag against the wall, and use it during the test to text answers.

Once the test has started and pockets have been pronounced void of phones, students could leave the room for water, take the phone from a backpack and bring it back into the room to take a picture of the test.

Obviously these scenarios are all grounds for invalidating the test, but they are also all easy ways to sidestep an ineffectual policy. The fact that they took less than ten minutes to formulate goes to show how the supposed revamping is almost completely hollow.

The administration can talk the talk about really wanting to cut down cell phone cheating, but it does not seem as if they’re ready to walk the walk and really threaten to punish students who pay no attention to feeble appeals to leave cell phones elsewhere. Instead of appeasement, all bags and items other than pens and pencils should be banned completely from the testing room.

Understandably, the administration would not want to punish the innocent along with the soon-to-be guilty by finally cracking down on cheating. But an empty and insipid policy is worse than doing nothing at all. If this is the school’s best shot at preventing cheating, they better come up with some new ideas fast, before kids get more technologically efficient than they already are.