Students Take Charge
Educational researchers believe the measures are starting to have an effect. In a 2006 survey of 35,000 high school students, 61 percent admitted to cheating, a decline from 74 percent in 2002. "There's a higher awareness around schools about the problem," says Michael Josephson. "At schools that are trying to stop it, the tide may be slowly turning."
In some cases it is students who are leading the charge. A year ago Alexander Levitt organized a committee of students, teachers, and administrators at Algonquin to create an honor code that clearly spells out ethical behavior and defines academic misconduct. They've yet to determine specific penalties for those who plagiarize or cheat on exams, or those who fail to report classmates who do, but serious offenders may be expelled and have their transgressions noted on their transcripts.
Although his classmates have mixed views of Levitt -- "I've been called a complainer and a goody-goody," he acknowledges -- school officials praise his efforts. "An honor code is a kind of north star that guides you to a higher standard," says Beth Wittcoff, a committee member and principal of nearby Annie Sullivan Middle School. "It's a positive step." For his part, Levitt, who last fall started attending Vanderbilt University in Nashville, says he will keep tabs on the new regulations by staying in touch with committee members via e-mail and text messaging. "The same technology that allows kids to cheat will help me create a way to stop it," he says. "I like that."