Rocked by Allegations of Cheating, School Issues Guidelines

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Responding to allegations of widespread cheating on tests and coursework, a top Pittsburgh high school has produced "academic integrity'' guidelines aimed at stemming future incidents.

The guidelines were released in June, shortly before The Wall Street Journal published a front-page article detailing charges by students, parents, and teachers that numerous students at Taylor Allderdice High School had offered money for homework, stolen tests, or used open dictionaries in taking college-admission tests, among other allegations.

Most of the incidents were said to have occurred during the 1990-91 school year and to have involved students who graduated from the public school this year. The students named as cheaters denied the charges or refused to comment.

The article suggested that intense pressure on Taylor Allderdice students to achieve high grades and gain admission to leading colleges had led to the academic dishonesty.

Richard Gutkind, a co-principal of the school, said the guidelines were prepared after a yearlong review by a committee of students, parents, and teachers, formed after the charges were made to school officials. He noted that the school had planned to train school-staff members on the guidelines even before the Wall Street Journal story appeared.

"These things would have happened regardless of the article,'' Mr. Gutkind said.

The new policy states that "the community of Taylor Allderdice High School will not tolerate cheating/plagiarism in any form by its students.'' It outlines procedures for investigating allegations, as well as practices--such as numbering test papers and requiring students to clear programmable calculators before taking mathematics tests--to curb incidents of cheating.

It also sets forth penalties for violators, ranging from failing an assignment to suspension.

Objections to Story

Mr. Gutkind and district officials voiced strong objections to the June 29 newspaper article.

At a news conference held the day it appeared, Richard C. Wallace Jr., Pittsburgh's superintendent of schools, denounced the story as "yellow journalism.''

"We felt it was a classic case of a mean-spirited, unfair, and unwarranted report,'' Patricia Crawford, a district spokesman, added in an interview. "And you can add irresponsible to that list.''

Ms. Crawford particularly objected to the fact that the newspaper printed the names and pictures of students who were accused of cheating.

"It's a shame they have to suffer publicly, when they may have done absolutely nothing,'' she said.

Roger B. May, a spokesman for the Journal, said the use of names was essential to the story.

"It's something we don't take lightly,'' he said. "We are concerned about journalistic ethics. We believe it is a fair and accurate story.''

Vol. 11, Issue 40, Page 27

Published in Print: August 5, 1992, as Rocked by Allegations of Cheating, School Issues Guidelines
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