‘Calcgate’ busted

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‘Calcgate’ busted

Patrick Rettig, Editor in Chief

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Cal’s math department was rocked last year when a cheating ring was uncovered that raised questions about both test security and student integrity.

The cheating was discovered late in the second semester last school year when scores were unusually high and inconsistent on the final, said Calculus teacher Jean Dillman.

Students who were normally scoring 70 percents were suddenly scoring well into the 90s, and this bothered both Dillman and Calculus teacher Janice Saiki. They decided that the number of A’s on their finals was simply too high to be true.

After searching for an explanation to the high test scores, at least one student came forward with a shocking revelation that the teacher’s final was online and had circulated between their Calculus students.

Both Dillman and Saiki use what is considered a “secure test” released by the College Board every year to only certain teachers with verified accounts on the College Board’s website.

But some students found the test on Reddit and shared it on Facebook, Saiki said.

“Social media has not been our friend,” said Dillman.

Both teachers cited social media as a growing problem threatening the integrity of their classes.

But the original intention of those who first found the test online still remains cloudy.

“I don’t think it was the intention to cheat, just to study,” said senior Ashwin Bhumbla, “but once word spread it was cheating.”

And it did not take long for word to get out that the final was online. Neither teacher knows exactly how many students had seen the final before the finals day.

“It’s hard to say the numbers, at least a quarter of the students,” said Saiki.

Not even the students in class knew how many of their classmates had been cheating.

“Definitely a substantial number, maybe a fifth or a quarter, maybe more,” said Bhumbla, who said he was not among the students who saw the final beforehand.

Saiki and Dillman caught the cheating before students in even day classes  could take the test. A whole new test was written for those students.

The odd day students were forced to re-take the new multiple choice test. If they scored within a certain level of discrepancy they received the higher of the two scores. If a student’s score exceeded  a certain level of discrepancy established by the teachers, then the lower of the two scores was given.

The teachers decided that this was the best and fairest course of action. No student was disciplined beyond receiving a final score that was appropriate to the work they put into the class.

“The kids were not happy but understood the reasons,” said Saiki.

Both teachers were surprised by the honesty of their students when it came to confessing. They were also grateful for the support they received from administration.

But not everyone supported the steps taken to curb the damage done by cheating.

“Some parents seemed to encourage certain behaviors if [their child] wouldn’t get caught,” said Saiki.

Saiki added that the parents who supported the teachers’ decision vastly outnumbered the parents who did not mind if their student may or may not have cheated.

The teachers blame the cheating on the pressure faced by their students to earn A’s.

“The grade is all they care about, not necessarily the learning,” said Dillman.

The only question remaining is how the “secure test” was leaked in the first place.

“We called College Board to report,” said Saiki. “We’re not sure if they did anything.”

Dillman reported that some students confessed to receiving the test to study with at local tutoring centers. Senior Eeshan Sharma said he got the test from his tutoring center.

There is still  no explanation for how the test ended up on Reddit. As for Dillman and Saiki, they will no longer be using tests from the College Board and will be making their own tests.