The digital ways kids cheat

Liz Goodwin

The low-tech days of cheaters writing answers on their hands are over, according to this round up of the new and digital ways kids are finding to cheat on tests by USA Today's Greg Toppo.

Some companies sell tiny earbuds that let test-takers communicate with a helper outside the exam room. (In China, two students taking an English exam had to be hospitalized to get those earbuds removed.) In Orange County, Calif., a student was accused of changing high school transcripts by installing spyware into school computers to steal teachers' passwords.

One of the most popular online videos on cheating shows students how to scan a soda label, remove all the nutritional information in a photo editing tool, and replace it with formulas or other facts. Students can print out the new label and reattach it to the soda bottle--and hope teachers don't notice when they're staring at the bottle during their exam.

In a poll done by Common Sense Media, about 35 percent of students said they'd used their cell phones to cheat on a test. The site Teachopolis tells teachers they can prevent cheating by inspecting calculators to make sure that students haven't programmed notes in them and by banning cell phones. A 2008 study also recommended that teachers run anti-plagiarism software when grading papers, to make sure their students didn't copy and paste chunks of online material into their own essays.

In 2006, Chinese authorities scrambled cell phone signals around their college entrance exam halls to make sure that no one who sneaked in a cell phone could use it to cheat.

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