A Cheating Crisis in America's Schools

ByABC News
April 26, 2004, 7:05 PM

April 29 -- Angelo Angelis, a professor at Hunter College in New York City, was recently grading some student papers on the story of Paul Revere when he noticed something strange.

A certain passage kept appearing in his students' work, he said.

It went like this, Angelis told Primetime's Charles Gibson: "Paul Revere would never have said, 'The British are coming, the British are coming,' he was in fact himself British, he would have said something like, 'the Red Coats are coming.' "

Angelis typed the words into Google, and found the passage on one Web site by a fifth-grade class. Half a dozen of his college students had copied their work from a bunch of elementary school kids, he thought.

The Web site was very well done, Angelis said. For fifth graders, he would give them an "A." But his college students deserved an "F".

Lifting papers off the Internet is one of the newer trends in plagiarism and technology is giving students even more ways to cheat nowadays.

Authoritative numbers are hard to come by, but according to a 2002 confidential survey of 12,000 high school students, 74 percent admitted cheating on an examination at least once in the past year.

In a six-month investigation, Primetime traveled to colleges and high schools across the country to see how students are cheating, and why. The bottom line is not just that many students have more temptation but they seem to have a whole new mindset.

Get Real

Joe is a student at a top college in the Northeast who admits to cheating regularly. Like all of the college students who spoke to Primetime, he wanted his identity obscured.

In Joe's view, he's just doing what the rest of the world does.