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UPDATE: No cellphones during Middleton High School tests

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UPDATED January 20, 2014-- 5:20 p.m.

"We don't want to make it easy for kids to make the wrong decision," said Middleton-Cross Plains school district spokesman, Perry Hibner.

The wrong decision like cheating. Anonymous letters sent in to the school district by parents and students in December accused students of cheating on a calculus test and several others throughout the year.

"These letters were specific enough in the cheating that was allegedly taking place we deemed it enough to take action," said Hibner.

So all 250 students were required to retake the test. Overall, they scored 3% lower than the first time. But 10 or 15 of those students scored significantly lower. They're now being questioned.

"The question we have never been able to determine at this point is the scope," said Hibner. "We continue to investigate. I don't know what's going to come of that."

In the meantime, new policies are already in place. With many of the accusations surrounding cell phones, they're now banned in the classroom during test times.

"Students were using cell phones to take pictures of exams and sharing them or bringing that stuff into class with cell phones," Hibner said about the allegations. "They have boxes at the front of the room they turn it in and then get it back at the end."

Bbut why aren't cell phones banned from school altogether?

"There's a legitimate reason when you're doing work and need to access something on the internet, and when we had a bomb threat back in November, I was happy that my daughter was able to text me right away," said Hibner.

Math and science teachers will also have multiple versions of a test.

"It really is more about finding ways to have more success on these assessments."

Hibner said there has been mixed reaction. Some understanding the need for new rules; other saying this is an overraction.


UPDATED Monday, January 20, 2014 --- 9:54 a.m.

MIDDLETON, Wis. (AP) -- Students at Middleton High School will no longer have access to their cellphones during test times.

The new policy follows allegations of widespread cheating. Teachers will collect all electronic devices from students before tests are distributed and won't return them until tests are collected.

Middleton-Cross Plains School District spokesman Perry Hibner tells the State Journal math and science teachers are also creating more than one version of a test to discourage cheating.

The policy comes after allegations that students cheated on a December calculus test. All calculus students were required to retake the exam. Hibner says scores on the second exams were 3 percent lower overall than the first test.

School administrators received anonymous letters alleging students were sharing or selling cellphone photos of the test questions.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press


Updated Monday December 23, 2013 --- 6:09 p.m.

Students suspected of cheating force 250 of their classmates at Middleton High School to retake a calculus test. Anonymous letters from both students and parents came into the school reporting it.

The letters that came in claimed students were taking pictures of the test and texting it to friends who were scheduled to take it the next day. The question is at what point does technology stop helping students learn, and start hindering them?

"We want them to be more than just high achieving kids, we want them to be high character students as well."

Perry Hibner with the Middleton-Cross Plains School District says they wont know the scope of the problem until they have a better idea of what happened.

"We may find out there are 0 students involved, we may find out there's a handful, we may find out there's more, at this point we don't know."

Jon Dalton is a junior at the high school, he's not in calculus but says it wasn't fair for some of his friends who studied the right way, and still had to retake the test.

"They were pretty upset, they didn't look forward to it. I understand it was a pretty hard test to begin with, thus the cheating on it. So you know, they weren't really happy about it. No one was really happy about it, the whole school was affected by it."

Hibner says technology is changing fast and staying two steps ahead of the students is a hard task.

"We have some teachers who already take away cell phones, and I think that's going to be something that will become a requirement across the high school."

He says when a student cheats, it puts honest students at a disadvantage,

"It's made it very challenging, I mean we've heard anecdotally stories about students who might have calculators that are so high end that they can program answers there and they even have apps available to hide the screen so it cant be noticed."

Dalton says there is a lot of pressure to get good grades but the school does offer resources for anyone in need of extra help.
He says if anyone did cheat, they should have found help instead.

And the school district will be holding focus groups in January with staff, students, and parents to try and figure out solutions to this problem.

Posted Monday, December 23, 2013 --- 9:46 a.m.

MIDDLETON, Wis. (AP) -- Nearly 250 seniors at Middleton High School were told to retake a calculus test after suspected cheating.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports Principal Denise Herrmann and Associate Principal Lisa Jondle sent a letter to parents last week indicating they suspected students of sharing photos of calculus test questions.

They wrote the investigation widened after the school received four letters from parents and students indicating such cheating had occurred before and in other subjects.

The letter said students also allegedly took copies of tests from classrooms and planned absences on test days to obtain information from students who took the test.

Middleton-Cross Plains School District spokesman Perry Hibner says no students have been disciplined. The letter to parents said student discipline could include suspensions.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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