May. 13, 2011
I recently received a call from a principal who posed this scenario to me that happened within his school. I thought it might make for very interesting discussion, and I’ve asked him for permission to put this out to our readers. To respect the concerns of the school, principal, teacher and student, none of their names will be given.
An 8th grade student has been accessing a social studies website created by a teacher from another school in another state. On this site, the teacher has been posting the exact teacher resources provided by the textbook company: PDF versions of the tests, quizzes, study guides and textbook pages in their original forms. Today the teacher discovered the student with the day’s quiz (this school uses the same textbook) in hand and referred it to the principal’s attention.
The student, in subsequent conversation with the principal, confirmed that he had been accessing the website over time and has been using the resources to prepare for the teacher’s assessments. While the teacher does utilize a variety of assessments in the classroom, she does utilize the stock quizzes included as part of the teacher resources.
Now, we all agree that the teacher posting the textbook material in this way, on her site, is breaking copyright. We might also argue that these stock assessments don’t carry much value. But the ethical dilemma for us is: What, if anything, did the student do wrong? Was the student cheating and wrong to continually go back to this site to get this material knowing it was the exact material his teacher was regularly using?