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Students' Cheating Scheme Uncovered

Posted February 25, 2008
Updated February 26, 2008

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— School administrators are investigating a cheating scheme that they say has been years in the making at Chapel Hill High School.

In an e-mail sent to parents last Thursday, Principal Jackie Ellis said students used a copied master key to the campus to go through teachers' offices to obtain copies of tests and answer keys that they then shared with other students.

"I was in great shock,” Chapel Hill High School student Fangyuan Chang said. "All my teachers talked about it in class."

Students passed around copies of answers to at least one test and at least one copy of the answer key was sent via a cellular phone, Ellis said.

"Am I supposed to like take my daughter's cell phone every day and go through it to make sure she's not receiving these kind of messages?” parent Danielle Council asked.

Ellis said in the e-mail that several years ago, students got the key and have passed it down as each class graduated.

"Evidently, a large number of students were aware that this was happening and remained silent," the principal wrote.

“At what point do we as parents, or even other kids, stand up and say OK, enough is enough, you know? There's just no reason for all this dishonesty,” Council said.

"Perhaps, if we (teachers/administration) had heard about this sooner, fewer students would have been involved in it and fewer students, teachers and parents would have been hurt in this whole unfortunate ordeal," Ellis said in her e-mail.

All exterior school doors are in the process of being re-keyed, Ellis said. New master keys will be issued to only a few people.

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools spokeswoman Stephanie Knott said some students were disciplined, however, she said she didn't know how many or the type of punishments given.

Groups of students from area schools are also talking about the incident and ways to prevent it from happening again, Knott said.

WRAL tried to interview Ellis Monday, but she was unable to accommodate the request.

113 Comments

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  • Babygirl_1 Feb 26, 2008

    I wonder if there is any teachers apart of this. it seems strange i go to college and there is no way nobody can get to the anwser key and our instuctor make so many versions of the test so there want be any cheating.

  • VT1994Hokie Feb 26, 2008

    As a former teacher and administrator, I have witnessed some students at all grade levels cheating. When I was a classroom teacher, I gave zeros to those caught. After a while I did not have to watch them like a hawk.

    High school students are pretty smart when it comes to cheating. Some high school students are text messaging their fellow students to get the answer to a test question.

    Why are students allowed to have a cell phone on their person in the classroom anyway? I didn't allow it when I was a principal.

  • angora2 Feb 26, 2008

    "Why are teachers so lazy? How is that a role model? And we blame kids for the way they are. It's the stupid adults that just don't get it. Why work when you can steel? Someone else is always to blame."

    Looks to me as if you are blaming others in your post, just what you preach against.
    And, if you don't know the difference between "steel" and "steal," I doubt it was the fault of a "lazy teacher."

  • MrX-- Feb 26, 2008

    Rather than bring down the hammer on the students right away the teachers should have planted bogus answer keys in their offices then let the students torpedo their grades. Wouldn't you love to be a fly on the wall when the guy that gave out the wrong answers to everyone has to explain to his buddies why they all got ZEROs on an exam using the key he supplied!

  • student07 Feb 26, 2008

    That said, I think it is surprising to see how shocked people are that cheating goes on in high school. I am fairly shocked by the stolen key scheme itself, but it is simply another way students have found to cheat. Lets not pretend that cheating doesn't go on in every high school in America. I still believe that students in the Chapel Hill-Carborro system, CHHS included, are better educated and far more capable than many other NC students. There is no doubt in my mind that the "caliber" of student is no less than it has been "hyped up" to be. Surely average grades and SAT scores will not decline now that this "cheating ring" has been discovered. It shocks me to hear that some of my peers in college graduated in the top 10% of their NC high schools, because it is fairly clearly they would not even crack the top 50% at CHHS or ECHHS.

  • Through a glass darkly Feb 26, 2008

    You guys are bringing me down! What a depressing picture you paint of humans.

  • student07 Feb 26, 2008

    As a recent graduate of CHHS, I can assure you that many are jumping to conclusions about the extent of the "cheating scheme". I was very involved as a student, and friends with a much of the 2008 class most involved in the scandal, but NOT ONCE did I EVER hear mention or rumor of a stolen key or stolen tests.

    I absolutely believe the scope of this cheating ring is being exaggerated. Many people seem to be assuming that hundreds of students have had access to midterms and finals every year, and this is without a doubt untrue. Even if this has been going on for several years, clearly only a couple students could have been involved. It is absurd to assume that years of GPA and class rank statistics as CHHS have been severely skewed by this cheating ring.

  • skaternum Feb 26, 2008

    "What amazes me --- and while the fault is 100% on the students --- is that the teachers used the same tests year after year."

    I didn't see in the article where it said the kids passed the *answer keys* down year after year. It said they passed the *building key* down year after year. So presumably they shared the answer keys around that year, stole the new answer keys when there was a new test & passed those around, then passed the key down to other students. The teachers may or may not have used the same test for a long time -- the story doesn't indicate one way or another.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Feb 26, 2008

    Seems that Chapel Hill High School graduates aren't of the caliber that they were hyped up to be.

    Bet the students at CHHS will have grades similar to students in other area high schools going forward.

  • Shadow213 Feb 26, 2008

    Here's a bright idea: Either change the test or change the answer key every year. Dur dur dur....

    I went to a large university where cheating this way was impossible. We had at least two different versions of the test, passed out to every other person in the class. The answer keys were changed every year. AND sometimes we we had to leave an empty seat between us and the next person. How could these teachers think something like this wouldn't happen if they don't change up the answers? Sheesh.

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