This semester, after a Senate proposal, teachers began to include a signed pledge at the beginning of each test: “I will not discuss anything included on this assessment with any other students until all sections/all students have completed this assessment.”
As any Belmont Hill student knows, discussion about tests after the fact is quite prevalent. Though students rarely give exact questions or answers to each other, they might encourage friends to focus on studying particular topics and bypass others.
“It’s usually something like ‘study this specific chapter’ or ‘watch out for the multi’s,” commented an anonymous senior. “Kids don’t want to cheat, but they want to help their friends, and the line can become a little blurred at times. Most kids don’t even think of these little hints as a violation of the honor code.”
While many students who discuss a test would argue they are not violating any rules, any discussion of a test can give an unfair advantage to those who have not yet taken the test. A suggestion of what to study or which sections to spend time on can make a very big difference in a student’s grade, and that is what the new pledge hopes to combat.
The agreement is also designed to provide students a reason not to talk about a test, especially in the face of peer pressure. Oftentimes, there is significant pressure on students to divulge some information. “It’s pretty hard to say no to someone when they ask you about a test,” another responder noted. “Some people will be pretty persistent with their questions if you don’t want to talk about a test, especially if they are nervous. People will make you feel like you’re being overly competitive or call you a ‘hardo’ ”.
Only time will tell how effective the new pledge will be in combating the rampant test discussion culture. It is certainly a good idea to try to curb such behavior, but students wonder how much impact a signed pledge will actually have. “It’s certainly a good idea, because I think some kids exploit test discussion to significantly improve their grades,” said one responder. “That being said, it probably won’t be too effective. The kids who don’t have any issues giving out info are the same kids that won’t be phased by a pledge, and I think a lot of people would put their friends over following the rules.”
The addition of the pledge is certainly a step up from the status quo, where there were no formal reminders regarding test discussion after the first few days of school. Even if some students disregard it and continue giving hints about an assessment, other students will likely take the warning to heart and, at the very least, give less information about tests. “The test pledge is a nice reminder to not give away anything about a test,” responded a student. “It just makes you think one more time before telling your friend about that one hard question.”
Overall, the new test pledge is a strong idea to curtail cheating and hints on tests to students who have not yet taken an assessment. While the effectiveness is questioned by many students who feel that a pledge will not actually change anything, it is an improvement from the status quo and provides one more barrier to academic dishonesty. Furthermore, it is testament to the Senate’s hard work, and demonstrates how student government exerts schoolwide impact that benefits us all.