New York Times Features Grown and Flown on Cheating at School

One day separates kids from winter break and soon, final papers and exams will be over and done with. Report cards arriving in inboxes or mailboxes will provide not only an assessment of the fall, but also an opportunity to discuss the grades earned and the integrity behind the effort. Today in The New York Times Motherlode blog, educator, author and parent, Jessica Lahey addresses academic honesty and cheating at school. She quotes Lisa’s Grown and Flown post on the same topic and gives parents the tools they need to tackle this uncomfortable but important subject.

Pinocchio, cheating at school

Here are some of Jessica’s observations about why students cheat:

Students cheat for lots different reasons, but chief among them are the competition for grades, the pressure of high-stakes testing, the failure to prepare or understand academic material, and, as reported in one study, the thrill of “cheater’s high.” Whatever the reason, cheating ramps up during middle school, where just over 60 percent of students reported cheating on exams and 90 percent admitted to copying another students’ homework, and peaks during high school, where about 75 percent of students admit to having committed acts of academic dishonesty.

Jessica offers several specific suggestions for parents to consider as they sit down with their kids.  She closes with a quote from Lisa’s Grown an Flown post, and an explanation of the mantra Lisa used with her kids, “take the D.”

If it is a choice between cheating and a lower grade — take the D. I tried to convince them that they would rather face my short-lived disappointment with a poor grade rather than my devastation, humiliation and sadness at my failures in parenting and their faulty moral compass. I let them know that far from going to bat for them, if they were found to be cheating, I would let them burn in the fires of both their school’s and our home’s disciplinary hell.

For more on this subject, read How Could a Sweet Third-Grader Just Cheat on That School Exam? from The Wall Street Journal. Lisa offers additional insights as one of the subjects interviewed by reporter, Sue Shellenbarger.



  1. says

    Disappointment at a low grade rather than devastation, humiliation and sadness at cheating – what a true and well said difference in a parent’s reaction. Great advice Lisa.

  2. Carpool Goddess says

    Such an important topic! And I so agree, take the D!

  3. says

    As hard as it is for a kid to swallow that D, like you said, the “moral compass” piece is way more important! My kids are at a very competitive school (what school isn’t these days?) and they tell me about the kids who cheat. “Oh yeah, he gets good grades but he cheats.” We talk a lot about this and about how that reputation stays with a person and is a lot more harmful than just taking the D and studying harder next time…Thanks for your thoughtful advice, Lisa!

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