Two anatomy and physiology students were suspended after school officials discovered that one had taken a picture of an upcoming chapter test and the other received the picture and passed it to another student.
Teacher Carol Dixon stayed home sick on Dec. 4, and due to the failure of a substitute to show up to lead the class, students were left alone for the majority of sixth period.
During this time, a student entered Dixon’s office, which connects to the classroom, and went through her file cabinet, the teacher said. There, the girl found a copy of an upcoming test and used a mobile phone to take a picture of it. She sent the photo to at least two other students, but the actual number of students who received the picture will never be known, according to Dixon.
When asked how those in the cheating scandal were caught, Dixon replied by vaguely saying, “Someone had a moment of clarity, went to someone, and basically told.”
The girl was sentenced to a four-day suspension, and received a zero on the test, she said. A boy who received a picture of the test, and then sent it to another student, received a two-day suspension, he said, but was permitted to take the test once it had been re-written. A third student, who received a picture of the test but did not pass it on, did not receive any formal punishment, he said.
The girl is very upset about her suffering grade, and with how punishments were decided.
“I don’t think it’s fair,” said the girl. “The other people got to take the new test and I didn’t, even though they saw [the original test] too. It’s been really hard because it lowered my grade a lot. I wrote an apology letter to Mrs. Dixon … so it just wasn’t fair I wasn’t allowed to take it.”
Dixon is aggravated by the whole situation, and is upset she had to spend a whole weekend re-writing the new test and had to attend numerous meetings on the subject.
The re-written test for this unit was much more challenging than earlier tests, according to students in the class, who did not receive a study guide as usual. Many students complained about its difficulty. The average score for the test was 59 percent.
“Not everyone saw the test, not everyone was directly involved with this, so giving everyone a purposefully more difficult test was just too much,” said junior Laurel Wilson.
Dixon believes the school’s handling of substitutes contributed to the problem. CVHS has experienced a shortage of subs and sometimes assigns them to cover six periods per day. It seems that the sub did not show up to class because “he thought he deserved a period off,” said Dixon.
Another root of the problem can also be found in society itself, Dixon said.
“In our society, it’s almost okay to lie and cheat. It’s almost cool to be that way and I don’t know how you fix that,” said Dixon.
She is extremely disappointed in the sixth period class, and is puzzled by the fact that no one contacted the office or a nearby teacher when the substitute failed to show up.
“No one wanted to be bold enough to take the initiative to do the right thing,” she said.
Dixon, who has a background in college teaching, is concerned students will not be prepared for the harsh world that awaits them once they graduate high school. Cheating in college is dealt with extremely severely, and almost always results in expulsion, she said.
“People are so coddled now, we’re not giving them a realistic attitude towards life,” she said.
Although this event has caused a lot of stress for all parties involved, Dixon has gleaned one lesson from this difficult situation.
“If I am ever sick again, I will drag myself in here and lock that office door,” she said.