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Widespread Cheating, Copying Belie Honor System

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Cheating, whether by borrowing someone's homework, buying a term paper, or cribbing on a test, appears to be the rule rather than the exception among high-school students today, according to a survey conducted by Highwire magazine, the national quarterly written by and for high-school students.

The survey, which queried 433 students at public, private, and parochial high schools, found that more than three-fourths of the students admitted to having cheated on tests or on homework at some time. Most of those responding said that "cheating was common whether an honor system was used in their schools or not," according to a summary of the survey.

Cheating on tests was the most frequently reported form of the behavior; 68 percent of the students said they had "seldom" cheated and 8 percent said they cheated frequently. Copying homework was the next most common misdemeanor, with 65 percent reporting "seldom" copying and 15 percent reporting "frequent" copying. Least common was copying or buying a term paper that was turned in as the student's own work; 8 percent reported resorting to this practice.

About half of the students surveyed said their schools used an honor system that expected students to report episodes of cheating. However, only 34 percent of the students whose schools had such systems reported thinking that the system was an effective means of de-terring cheaters.

Cheaters offered numerous explanations and rationalizations for their behavior. Some students said the work was too easy or "meaningless" and others said that teachers had unreasonably high expectations of the students.

A complete copy of the cheating survey is available from Highwire, Dept. pr, 217 Jackson St., Box 948, Lowell, Mass., 01843.

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