Manhasset Blues?

Deme Apostolou, Op-Ed Editor

In the wake of “Operation: Varsity Blues”, the whole country is in an uproar.

If you are not familiar with the cases, here is the breakdown:

Just recently, the FBI arrested about 50 people with charges that involved the privileged using their money illegally to get their children into colleges where they did not belong.  The basis of the operation was a fake standardized testing tutor agency which -after the students got extra time- had their proctors go into the exams and change the students answers to thus improve their overall scores. Absurd amounts of money were paid to this agency under the guise of “Key Worldwide Foundation” which is a fake charity that is said to help underprivileged children (how ironic).  A key aspect of the plan was paying off college coaches to get the students recruited to elite universities.  In some cases the students didn’t even play the sport listed on their application.  In these situations fake statistics and photoshopped team photos were used in an attempt to feign being a potential recruit.  Among those arrested is Lori Laughlin from Full House, whose daughter now attends the University of Southern California after being “recruited as a rower” (having never rowed a day in her life).

Although these cases of fraud are indubitably wrong, what makes this obvious form of cheating any different from the little things that go on in high school on a daily basis?  With teachers who don’t change tests from period to period or even year to year, students by second period already have word about exact questions and topics they could expect.  One can argue that the students who give up the test information are the ones to blame, but there is no way to prevent the overhearing of chatter from those who come out of the classroom after taking the exam.  Even though people who give up answers after they take the test need to realize that they’re only hurting themselves in the process, this is mostly on the system to come up with a better way to combat the evident problems.  Different versions, harsher punishments for cheaters or not allowing students to keep graded tests once they’re handed back – something needs to be done.

Without second thought, the most cheating that goes on at Manhasset High is involved with those who have extra time.  Although students who have learning disabilities do deserve the extra time they are given, the way in which the school allows them to utilize the extra time is absurd.  Students with extra time are allowed to start the exam with the rest of their class and hand it in with the rest of their peers as well.  At that point where everyone else’s tests are ready for grading, the students with extra time have their exams places in the Testing Center where they can just go back to the test whenever they have free time to continue working. In some cases there will be over a week between the time they started the exam and it is still being continued in the Testing Center.  If a student without extra time had seen the test beforehand and then had the opportunity to converse with other students about it, study more, or even google answers online, they would be called down to the main office for academic dishonest violations.  Student’s learning disabilities should give them an opportunity to compete equally with the rest of their peers by simply giving them more time to exhibit their knowledge on the exam that they couldn’t otherwise do with the limited 42 minutes in class; they should not give students an edge by allowing them to obtain test answers before getting a another look at a test they have already been working on.  In order to give everyone a fair and equal chance to do well, the system of extra time in our school needs to be reevaluated.