No-Fail Cheating Policy Under Review

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A policy at a St. John's, Newfoundland school board won't allow teachers to fail students who cheat. | Shutterstock

A St. John's-based school board is reviewing a controversial new policy that forbids teachers from giving a failing grade to students caught cheating.

Ford Rice, executive director of the Eastern School District, said a volunteer committee of teachers and administrators is now reviewing the policy, which sparked an uproar this fall with some educators calling it too lenient.

Rice told CBC News Thursday night that changes could be announced soon.

"Thus far, we've had two committee meetings, and we should have some concrete change to the administrative regulations communicated to teachers in the next couple of days," Rice said.

The school board had defended the policy change, on grounds that cheating students could still be disciplined — including a suspension from school — and that a failing grade did not resolve whether the student had actually learned an assignment.

But critics said the policy helped coddle students, and gave a signal that cheating does not have serious consequences.

Rice said he does not think the rules on cheating will change completely. He said he expects the philosophy will stay the same, and that teachers will have more discretion.

The Eastern School District decided to revisit the policy following October's controversy.

Ford said an email was sent to all teachers in the district. The response was significant, with about 100 applicants. About two dozen teachers and administrators were selected.

As well as reviewing the cheating policy, the group is looking at how teachers can treat late assignments.

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