Middleton High School officials are investigating claims of cheating, including allegations of students sharing and selling photographs of test questions.

Nearly 250 seniors at Middleton High School were told to retake a calculus test this week after the school learned last week of suspected cheating among its test takers, a spokesman said.

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

In a letter to parents Thursday, principal Denise Herrmann and associate principal Lisa Jondle said during the course of their investigation into alleged sharing of photos of calculus test questions, they received letters from students and parents “which provided additional information to the scope and severity of cheating on tests in courses across the curriculum,” prompting the school to notify all parents of the allegations.

Herrmann and Jondle asked parents for their support “in talking with your students about the ramifications of engaging in some of the dishonest assessment practices reported to us.”

The letter said the school had been notified that students were:

• using cell phones to photograph tests

• taking copies of tests from classrooms

• sharing and selling photographs of test questions

• bartering questions on tests from one subject area to another

• planning absences on test days to obtain test information from students who took the test.

Aside from requiring all calculus students to retake a test, no students have been disciplined, said Middleton-Cross Plains School District spokesman Perry Hibner. The letter to parents said student discipline could include suspensions.

Hibner said that after being told students were cheating during their lunch hour, school officials reviewed video footage that found a number of students at more than one table huddled together, but nothing proving they were looking at photos of test questions.

Hibner said the district has not yet found any evidence proving any of the claims. He said the district has not received any specific claims about cheating in other classes, but it was implied in other classes by parents and students.

“The focus of our investigation is calculus; however, we won’t limit our scope just to that,” he said.

The high school will host a series of focus groups early next year, the letter to parents said, to “determine the root cause of talented students choosing to participate in dishonest academic practices.”

Hibner also said the allegations have prompted the school to revisit its policies on test-taking and cellphone use.

Middleton-Cross Plains School Board president Ellen Lindgren said she is confident in the district’s investigation and that the board would likely not seek any outside investigation into the allegations.

“The administration has kept us very much apprised of the situation,” she said. “Knowing Dr. Herrmann and knowing Dr. (Superintendent Don) Johnson, this is not going to be a trifle. ... Our kids do very well, and this is one of the higher-level classes that we offer at Middleton. We certainly want to keep the record clean.”

Anjie Harris-Ostrem, a parent of a junior currently taking pre-calculus at Middleton High, said ubiquitous cellphone use among teenagers will always make cheating an issue. Harris-Ostrem received emails about the possible cheating, but her son is not enrolled in the calculus class at the center of the investigation.

“It’s not surprising,” she said. “Cheating has always been a problem; it’s nothing new, but now you’re dealing with electronics.”

Harris-Ostrem said she expects the school will come up with a strategy to combat technology-enhanced cheating.

“I’m sure they don’t want this to happen again,” she said. “We’ve always prided ourselves on being an academic school.”

Molly Beck covers politics and state government for the Wisconsin State Journal.

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(53) comments

Phil E Buster
Phil E Buster

Aww...if Scotty would have thought of this, he might have graduated from college!

Cheaters are cheaters whether student of Governor.

axman
axman

Yep, you should blame it on Walker. And bashing on each others schools......nice. You are classy folks.

Peabody122
Peabody122

Cheating was not invented in Middleton 2013. Cheating has been going on as long as humans have been competing and measuring themselves against one another. This is not a "Middleton problem" so all you haters should think twice about being overly critical of the city and school before you lash out. If you don't think kids are cheating in (fill-in-the-blank-with your-local-school) you are incredibly naive. Retesting 250 kids in a calculus doesn't mean ALL 250 were cheating. But checking which students went from A's to D's or F's should make it easy to identify the ones that were.

Cell phones, email, and other electronic media or devices have no business in the classroom during exams. It's the world we live in that requires teachers to stay ahead of the potential ways to cheat. Different exams for different periods, heck even rearrange the order of the questions. But ultimately the responsibility to resist cheating lies with the students themselves. There will always, ALWAYS be ways to cheat.

Peabody122
Peabody122

Cheating was invented in Middleton 2013. Cheating has been going on as long as humans have been competing and measuring themselves against one another. This is not a "Middleton problem" so all you haters should think twice about being overly critical of the city and school before you lash out. If you don't think kids are cheating in (fill-in-the-blank-with your-local-school) you are incredibly naive. Retesting 250 kids in a calculus doesn't mean ALL 250 were cheating. But checking which students went from A's to D's or F's should make it easy to identify the ones that were.

Cell phones, email, and other electronic media or devices have no business in the classroom during exams. It's the world we live in that requires teachers to stay ahead of the potential ways to cheat. Different exams for different periods, heck even rearrange the order of the questions. But ultimately the responsibility to resist cheating lies with the students themselves. There will always, ALWAYS be ways to cheat.

nufsenuf
nufsenuf

THERE IS NO TIME IN THE SCHOOL DAY WHEN CELL PHONES ARE NECESSARY IN SCHOOL, PERIOD!! The students in question are guilty of cheating. That said, the administration enabled this action with the lack of a cell phone ban!!! The primary blame is on the students, the secondary blame is on the parents for purchasing/allowing the phones and the tertiary blame rests squarely with the school administration, teachers and the school board as well.

In Medias Res
In Medias Res

I had 3 semesters of calculus at UW-Madison and have never used it anywhere. Glad to have learned it, though. What I have used a lot is trigonometry. Not at any job but on construction projects at my house. If you have to design a set of stairs that will have all the treads evenly spaced and within legal specifications, nothing beats trigonometry. I have also never learned to use a rafter square, as it's easier for me to use sines, cosines, and tangents. So kiddies, don't cheat on your trigonometry, since it might be useful to you someday, in ways you might not imagine.

bandogeek
bandogeek

This is academic dishonesty, which is punishable by academic death. If the school can find sufficient evidence to prove that the students did cheat, don't make them retake the test, refuse their eligibility to graduate. Make this a learning lesson for them, because once they get to the university, there will not be any tolerance for this kind of behavior.

willhogoboom
willhogoboom

We didn't cheat back in the days when I was in school.....

Big Shooter
Big Shooter

This one way of filling in the achievment gap.

sjones13
sjones13

When I taught a digital photography course last year, I had several students cheat by turning in work they ripped off of the internet. Given the amount of students who engaged in this, I realized that this was partly a cultural problem.

My solution was to teach about copyright laws and academic dishonesty, coupled with a Webquest directing students to find want ads for jobs in the field. Having the students learn about what it takes to make it in photography, and what kind of salaries are awarded, helped drive home the point that they were literally taking food off of someone’s table when they steal visual artwork.

We also discussed how technology has turned our marketplace into what seems to be a gray area, but not without consequences. Part of the reason why there is such a weak homogenized presence on the radio/music charts is that my generation didn’t vote with their wallets for music they want, and instead shared files through Napster and the like.

I think most schools could benefit from providing an “ethical technology” course, including a primer on intellectual property, privacy, and civil discourse. And yes, let's get the cellphones out of the classroom...some days it feels like I'm trying to take their "blankie" away.

TruthTrain
TruthTrain

What's really unfortunate is that a surprising number of parents of Middleton High School students are just as guilty of cheating as these students. They help their children cheat by excusing them from school on test days, not disciplining them when cheating does occur, and in general having an attitude that cheating isn't that bad.

What's worse yet is the parents making their students believe that their worth comes from their test scores. Let's not let students think that cheating is okay, and let's not tell them that they will not amount to anything if they do not take AP Calculus and get an A in it.

elroy2u
elroy2u

Clearly this is all Scott Walkers fault!

ssmith
ssmith

Fail them all. Our culture is way too soft. Lessons need to be learned.

Norwood44
Norwood44

It seems Middleton has an Honesty Gap.

Zastrow
Zastrow

Getting back to the real issue...cheating...there is no excuse for it, period. But where are the teachers when these students are being tested? How can they not notice students using cell phones to take pictures of exams or removing copies of the tests from the classroom?

By the way, according to a Middleton student I know, the cheating isn't restricted to Calculus, and it's been going on for years. Wht did it take this long for the teachers to catch on?

iponder
iponder

You can see the impact of bullying in most of these comments. Its clear many of you are recovering from an atomic wedgy and having your lunch money stolen. Now as adults you are taking it out on children. Middleton should come down hard if they can prove the allegations. The rest of you? Go back to kicking your dog.

happydays
happydays

Hmm all the Middleton bashing - what's the matter - jealous that Madison schools probably couldn't find 250 kids who could pass a general 5th grade math class? Cheating is bad - but none of you have proof that they did it or how many kids were involved and yet you accuse all of the them with your remarks? My bet - take all the kids in Middleton schools and all those in Madison and 10 years from now - more of the Middleton kids will be successful than those from Madison. (not counting those in private schools)

Norwood44
Norwood44

Happydays. When not 2 or 3, but rather 250 of your little darlings are suspected in a cheating scandal, it is probably not the time to start woofing on other kids and districts. It would be the classy thing to do to tend to your own business rather than deflect attention with petty insults. The issue isn't test scores. It's integrity. You are merely compounding the perception problem for your community. Good luck with that.

jackjones
jackjones

I wouldn't trade my kids' education in Madison for all the lily white marbles in your Middleton world. My kids did Calculus AB and BC in high school and earned their grades, as well as their admission to a host of great colleges and universities. The fact that you harp on the socio-economic problems of the Madison kids while imagining that your little Middleton toads will be more successful 10 years down the road says it all..just like your precious little toads who chanted about food stamps and Oscar Mayer. I say let them cheat- it's in their DNA to win at all costs, be it on the athletic field or the classroom.

number6
number6

Calculus, schmalculus. What's the rate of change of a student's self worth as she strives to join the cheating-is-no-problem majority? Worse yet, I've heard stories of cheating where it really counts, like in orchestra, art and physical education. Kids -- ya gotta love 'em.

WRS Rocks
WRS Rocks

These kids can't help it. They have the Affluenza disease.

They catch it from their parents-some of whom will excuse their kids on test days to give them an extra advantage over "the competition" and who also think it is ok to text their kids during the school day while they know class is in session.

Cell phones have no place in school-totally unnecessary and judging by this story, counterproductive to education.

Academic Cheating Fact Sheet from Stanford University

http://www.stanford.edu/class/engr110/cheating.html

Also:

According to surveys in U.S. News and World Report:

80% of “high-achieving” high school students admit to cheating.
51% of high school students did not believe cheating was wrong.
95% of cheating high school students said that they had not been detected.
75% of college students admitted cheating, and 90% of college students didn’t believe cheaters would be caught.
Almost 85% of college students said cheating was necessary to get ahead.

ThinkingForward
ThinkingForward

Other than at lunch time, there is no time in which a cell phone is needed in today's school environment. School administrators that amend their behavior policies to allow for building-wide cell phone use should not be surprised when they find out that these very devices are being used to cheat. Cheating has always existed in schools and it has only been made easier, and therefore encouraged, by the administrators. The perplexion that these "bright" students were cheating is perplexing itself. These are the only kids that cheat. They feel entitled to succeed by any means because the rules only apply to everyone else. These kids also usually have the parents that will side with/protect the cheater and point the finger at the school or teacher. The "lower" kids don't cheat because they don't care enough to and they don't typically have the high expectations and/or pressures that the "academic elite" have. This article is merely picking on a perennial academic powerhouse, when in reality this article could be written on a weekly basis on any school. There is no new story here. It's just that students' perceived inalienable "right to bear technology" has made cheating as easy as it as ever been in the history of education.

nufsenuf
nufsenuf

I would amend your statement to: "THERE IS NO TIME IN THE SCHOOL DAY WHEN CELL PHONES ARE NECESSARY IN SCHOOL, PERIOD!! The students in question are guilty of cheating. That said, the administration enabled this action with the lack of a cell phone ban!!!

River
River

Not surprised coming from Middleton.

seriouslyfolks
seriouslyfolks

If they need to cheat to pass, maybe they shouldn't be taking the class...I took it in high school, without a fancy calculator, no cheating. Wasn't that hard.

truedat
truedat

Cooperation leads to graduation!

Middleton has always been a pompous entitled spoiled bunch of rude brats. The kids are just as bad too!

ssmith
ssmith

punks. self entitled generation

axman
axman

I just want to mention that Lawyers/ politicians (and wall st folks) usually don't take a course in calculus. It requires to much thought. sorry...and survey of calculus doesn't count. And if you lie on a resume it usually doesnt matter anyway since you figure it out pretty quick on the phone and in person that they are full of it.

smithy
smithy

Sounds like a bunch of budding young governors!

OscarD
OscarD

Hopefully, none will be eligible to apply for the National Honor Society.

axman
axman

I think you would be surprised what the NHS participants get away with. Just because of what is in the name does not make it legitimate.

shakusky
shakusky

I agree. Middleton Grad here, former NHS board member. Most members did not take the club seriously at all. It's a resume filler to most. All the comments here about these kids being entitled and cheating to get ahead are true for most of the 250 I think, and they need to be punished, because that's how you learn a lesson.
"The high school will host a series of focus groups early next year, the letter to parents said, to 'determine the root cause of talented students choosing to participate in dishonest academic practices.'" A message like this is frustrating, because the root cause is already known to be students feeling pressured to excel. They need a reasonable punishment, like failing that test.

Weirdwise
Weirdwise

These young people are learning valuable skills that will serve them well as adults in our society. They can go into politics or business or law or any of many other professions that pay well and allow one to feel and act important. Middleton kids won't be stuck in those"transitional" jobs that pay minimum wage. They will have the skills to do well in our society. That's a school that truly grasps today's core curriculum!

geo_
geo_

Well they are their way to being good Wall St. investment bankers.

HockeyTeam
HockeyTeam

Not to make light of the situation but 250+ kids taking calculus. That pretty good, over half of close the senior class taking that.

Note to Middleton Schools: You can prevent cheating by using different versions of each test, and creating new tests each term. Works every time!

midwestguy
midwestguy

Great. Now if we could only discipline the people currently in the work force whose resumes commit the same offense.

axman
axman

I agree with abraham...but I would add that cheating and getting caught me be a good lesson for some kids to learn, especially if they are willing to take calculus in highschool instead of waiting for college.

RutledgeStBlues
RutledgeStBlues

Same type of kids who came to East for a Hoops game when I went there and chanted "FOOD STAMPS FOOD STAMPS". Expel all of them. See what daddy's money is worth then.

53703
53703

wow, disgusting

Comment deleted.
RutledgeStBlues
RutledgeStBlues

Huh?

Comment deleted.
RutledgeStBlues
RutledgeStBlues

Middleton came to East for a BBall game in 05/06 and their students chanted FOOD STAMPS FOOD STAMPS. what does being Caucasian have to do with this people?

axman
axman

Its not the right thing to do (if they did it) but I would rather my child being accused of cheating on a calculus test because they were stressed out about college then dropped out and high on drugs.

College Didn't Take
College Didn't Take

I would feel so much better with a dunce in calculus tending the cash register at a McDonald's than running chem lab work in cancer research. Wouldn't you?

Norwood44
Norwood44

That is some weird logic Ax.

AbrahamLinksys
AbrahamLinksys

bdholmes-- me too -- I remember creating little programs to load bmps of graphs for equations describing hyperbolic graphs/ conic sections. Even had a little thing to do "i" to any power and it would even show your work.

All that cheating paid off in the end tho because I really had to understand the material to make the programs.

Now if I'd had the presence if mind to sell this instead of giving it away freely...

53703
53703

Likewise for me. I programmed the formulas into my calculator for a physics exam, and then I didn't need to even look at them. I am a math teacher who lets students use a page of notes. This discourages cheating and is a sly way of getting them to study more while making them think they are studying less.

Newholland3
Newholland3

I have found that works.
good answer.

bdholmes
bdholmes

I never would have graduated from college after 8 years without that trusty TI-82 by my side. Thank you Texas Instruments...

And kids out there Calculus gets you nowhere in life...it's right up there with Sociology and other fluff filler courses to get you over that 120+ course hump.

Someone chime in if Calculus has truly made a difference in your professional life (outside of someone in a super nerdy profession...making rocketships/death stars, kiosk work at the mall, etc.).

elsewhere
elsewhere

I took calculus without a calculator. I do not work in a super nerdy profession. I do not work in a kiosk in the mall. And yes, calculus has made a difference in my professional life and so has sociology and some of those other "fluff" courses like psychology, political science, economics, English. You, know, all of those "waste of time" liberal arts classes . Sometimes I need to look at projects/studies done by engineers. Because I took both algebra and calculus, I can understand enough to know when someone might be throwing some BS around. I frequently have to work with politicians. Believe me the psych and poli sci classes help.

Newholland3
Newholland3

Lets sing Kumbayai.

iponder
iponder

If they can't replicate their scores give them the boot.

bdholmes
bdholmes

The good ol' TI-82 was my weapon of choice as a young lad...

College Didn't Take
College Didn't Take

You're giving yourr age away. We didn't have a caluclator with the name Texas Instruments when I was in high school. It was called "Post" because it was about 12 inches long and it had two slides that went up and down the "post".

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