The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

Faculty divided over new plagiarism policy

Some teachers say JR-specific guidelines promote dishonest work
Innea Kersey

An updated plagiarism policy has been implemented for the 2023-2024 school year, allowing students to turn in work and receive up to an 86% even after cheating. Some individuals are concerned the policy will affect academic integrity in the classroom. 

As noted on all class syllabi, “if plagiarism has been found, the grade will be entered as a (WS), and students will be allowed to submit original work.” 

The new policy originated from feedback department chairs, instructional staff, and parents had on the lack of consistency between teachers and as they responded to plagiarism. It incorporates aspects of the DCPS grading policy with Jackson-Reed’s emphasis on student learning. 

Principal Brown explained that the cause for change was simple, “the new policy allows us, as a school, to respond uniformly while ensuring that students still have an opportunity to demonstrate mastery.” 

Social studies teacher, Eduardo Canedo, offers a different perspective. He stated, “cheating is a violation of academic integrity, and it undermines the honesty that teaching and education require. Cheating is more than the absence of mastery.” 

The policy is viewed as weak by Canedo, and many teachers alike see strong disadvantages to students not being able to face any consequences. “A good cheating policy sets such a high bar with consequences so awful that students don’t even try to cheat,” Canedo said. 

In reality, the policy hasn’t been drastically changed. “This is just slightly different than before,” math teacher Lee Casey said, “we were always supposed to plug in a (WS), but there wasn’t an indication that we should give the students a chance to retake it.” 

Even though Casey believes the new policy resembles the previous one, he thinks it has a negative impact on students. “I teach college-level material, if you were caught cheating on a college exam you would be kicked out of the class,” Casey said. 

A major competent causing the disagreement between the administration and teachers on notions such as this, stems from teachers not having a voice in determining policies. As a school-wide understanding of the consequences of cheating would solve plenty of misunderstandings, teachers can’t help but feel as though they should have a say. “It’s my grade book, it should be up to me to decide [my policy],” Casey stated. 

Teachers are also concerned about the lessons the policy teaches students when it comes to assignments in the future. English teacher, Charles Preacher, thinks the policy is a positive step forward but is wary about the side effects, “I think it’s great that we allow students to have another attempt,” said Preacher, “but it’s the everlasting opportunities we have to give that confuses me.” 

Since students are allowed to re-submit work continuously, and without consequences, there is no motive to stop. “The question then becomes are you going to demonstrate continuous cheating, or show your skill,” Preacher said.

Canedo has taken it upon himself to supplement the school-wide policy. “Of course, I will follow the official policy,”  Canedo said, “but I will also be in touch with all of my students, their parents, and their other teachers, and I will require students who plagiarize to complete future assignments only with my supervision.” 

While teachers seem to have a unified opinion on the policy, students differ. Junior Mimi Koch said, “if it is your authentic work the second time around you should have the opportunity to show it.” In contrast, Senior Giacomo Ban-Goodrich explained, “it doesn’t make any sense, this policy will only prompt more people to cheat. If we don’t have a cheating problem now we will soon.”

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Addison Childre, Director of New Staff
Addison is the other half of the amazing, glorious, jaw dropping, Spreaditors. The beacon always, and I mean always, comes first, but when she is not slaving away, trying to make the spread as beautiful as possible, she can be spotted playing a bit too much lacrosse or going on a bit too long hikes—it clears her head or whatever. If you can’t reach her then don't be alarmed. To have her actually respond to text is mind boggling—I guess you're just special if so. 
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