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This Week in Cheating: Go To Jail

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So if I understand this article correctly (click here), in China there is an exam you take in high school that determines your future education potential and career opportunities. It doesn’t get much more “high stakes” than that.  Where there are high stakes exams you’ll inevitably find cheaters, just like how autumn brings out every flannel shirt in North Carolina (see staff photo).

To combat the cheaters, new rules have been put in place officially launching November 1st. The controversial aspect that has everyone talking (at least everyone around here) is that cheaters will now go to jail.

That’s right. You mess with this test and you are being sent up state, to the big house, the pen, behind bars, the cage, lockup, gen pop, the clink, the slammer, the can, stockade, the joint, the inside, the brig, a penal institution, and the house of correction.

In the recent past, students have tried using drones and Bluetooth sensors to cheat this exam. Not only would these test takers serve time under the new rules, but also would their accomplices. Let’s say you pilot the drone above the exam, what’s your penalty? 3-7 years in prison! Yowza!It will be interesting to see how the Chinese students respond to the new penalties. Obviously one would expect this sentencing to serve as a stern deterrent.

However, it is worth noting that in the last cohort of 10 million test takers only 14 cases of exam violations were recorded. And only 9 of the 14 were actually cheating.

I’m no math wiz, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, and I know that 9/10,000,000 is not an epidemic of cheating. 9 out of 10,000,000 is probably well within most standards of contamination, error, or dare I say negligible. I’m not convinced that the punishment fits the crime here, but then again we are talking about a country that has you take a test in High School to decide your ultimate future educational and career potential.

Meanwhile, back at the old home place, America is in the midst of a cheating epidemic! This isn’t my hyperbolic waxing; this is coming from the guy who wrote Freakonomics

CBS has a story on how Steven Levitt and his colleague Ming-Jen Lin more-or-less rigged the seating of students in an exam, compared wrong answers and identified 12 cheaters in this class of 242 students. What was the punishment? Did anyone serve hard time?

“The professor forwarded the names of the 12 students who were “most suspicious” to the dean, who started an investigation. Four of the 12 students confessed, they noted. Unfortunately, pressure from parents on the dean’s office prompted the cancellation of the investigation, they added.”

Darn meddling parents. Always getting in the way of our persecution of students. Nobody went to jail. Nobody was even punished.

Now we’re not here to say one way is right or more appropriate than the other. In fact I’d wager most people agree that both scenarios are wrong. Somewhere we will find a happy medium where cheaters receive a fair penalty. But that may have to wait for another week.

Thanks for reading “This Week in Cheating.” See you real soon!

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