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Letter: Academic cheating a serious breach of trust

If students’ grades are to be interpretable by parents, employers and collegiate admissions offices, then grades must necessarily be a pure measure of academic achievement. While educators are understandably sensitive about academic cheating, assigning a zero grade to a student caught cheating threatens the very interpretability of that grade as a measure of what a student actually knows, understands and can do. While cheating on exams and assignments constitutes a misrepresentation of a student’s true capabilities, educators who assign a failing grade or even partial credit for academic cheating are, ironically, equally guilty of a misrepresentation of a student’s true knowledge and skills. A punitive misrepresentation of a student’s true capabilities might well have long-term implications for a student’s subsequent application for college admission and employment. Academic cheating constitutes a serious breach of trust in instructional settings. The penalty for a breach of trust is the immediate withdrawal of trust. Instances of cheating merit elementary and secondary students being externally monitored until academic trust can be re-established through counseling. In collegiate settings, a serious breach of trust might well warrant both counseling and the ultimate penalty of dismissal.

Bowman lives in Fargo.