SHS Cracks Down on Academic Integrity

By Tarini Venkat

This summer, Dr. Libano sent out an email to all parents and students at Sharon High School, with an attachment that included various ways the school would reinforce the importance of academic integrity, including using phones trays, using case scenarios, establishing an honor code, and spending $7,000 to pilot an anti-plagiarism program called Turnitin, which has been used by many colleges and even at the high school level.  See the letter here.

Dr. Libano says that the honor code idea was inspired by a former student, Jake Marglous, who made a presentation to the staff about how cheating is reduced when there is a formal code. This strategy came out of combined efforts between Mr. O’Reilly, Dr. Libano, and staff.

Social Studies teacher, Mr. O’Reilly, says that things will only change if students start to expect ethical behavior amongst their peers.  “We are a grade obsessed/college acceptance driven community and technology allows for an almost infinite number of ways to cheat.” he said.

On Thursday, September 14th, classes were shortened and third block was lengthened so that teachers could facilitate a 70-minute discussion about academic integrity which involved a presentation of survey data and review of various situations where academic integrity could be questioned.  See the scenarios here and see the presentation here.

Senior Jackson Fawcett says that the data shown in the presentation, which was based on responses from surveys given to students last year, appeared inaccurate because it didn’t seem to reflect what he believes actually happens.  “I saw in the graph that around 15 percent of people said they had cheated and around 85 percent said they had not. Those percentages should probably be flipped based on what I know from what people ask me in the classes and in the halls. I know that the academic pressure makes them think that they need to get a certain grade” he said.  Fawcett also said that the case scenarios were “pretty relatable,” but they didn’t  address or analyze the root of the problem.

Sophomore Elina Desanges agreed, saying “Nobody is going to change their mind about cheating because of some workshop.  Sophomore Caleb Gao added “Everyone already knows that cheating is bad…. they’re going to do it anyway.”

Wellness teacher Mr. Christansen said that the initiatives to reinforce academic integrity are good for the school.  Now, every incident is reported, even if it’s minor. This way, there’s a tracking system if students are repeat offenders.

Social Studies teacher Mr. Fazzio added he would prefer more focus on character building. “ We need to build a dialogue so that people will embrace the idea of being honorable, trustworthy, and ethical people.” he said.

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