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Prevalence of Cheating
Data indicates that cheating is a major issue in American schools. From fall 2002 to spring 2015, the International Center for Academic Integrity surveyed more than 70,000 American high school students about cheating in 2017 and found that:
- 64% of survey respondents admitted to cheating on a test
- 58% admitted to plagiarism
- 95% said they participated in some form of cheating, whether it was on a test, plagiarism, or copying homework
Edgenuity believes academic integrity is a non-negotiable to guaranteeing high-quality, meaningful learning. However, with the proliferation of websites dedicated to posting answers to assessment questions, ensuring academic integrity can be difficult. Fortunately, research has uncovered several, evidence-based strategies that teachers, administrators, and curriculum providers can take to ensure school work is completed honestly.
- Clearly Define Academic Integrity
Studies indicate that student misunderstandings about academic integrity and the concept of plagiarism contribute to an increase in digital cheating (Ma, Lu, Turner, & Wan 2007). One of the best ways to make sure students are honestly completing their schoolwork is to articulate what is appropriate conduct and what constitutes cheating. If students understand how to complete their work without plagiarizing or cheating, many of them will make sure to avoid doing both.
As researchers McCabe & Trevino (1993) note, a school’s “ability to develop a shared understanding and acceptance of its academic integrity policies has a significant and substantive impact on student perceptions of their peers’ behavior. Thus, programs aimed at distributing, explaining, and gaining student and faculty acceptance of academic integrity policies may be particularly useful” (p. 533-534).
Bottom line: Schools should engage with teachers, parents, and students alike to reinforce how to set expectations. For example, do teachers explicitly explain that looking up answers during a test is cheating?
Set Expectations Collaboratively with Staff
We would encourage all schools to engage their staff in a discussion of the kinds of expectations they have set with students about cheating behavior. Do teachers explicitly explain that looking up answers during a test is cheating? What are the consequences when students do it? Are those consequences made clear to parents/guardians and students from the start of the year?
We believe that the most effective way to prevent cheating is to manage the students instead of attempting to manage the technology. When we try to design tools to stop students from cheating, all we teach them is to look for other ways to cheat. Given the number of stories we hear every day about professionals who lie on their resumes, academics who falsify their data, and corporate leaders who make questionable financial choices, it's clear that we're not doing enough in the early years to help students understand and value integrity.
Bottom line: This is a perfect opportunity to help students understand what the school defines as cheating, and what the consequences will be should cheating occur in the classroom.
- Establish an Honor Code
Research shows that students who attend schools with honor codes are less likely to cheat. However, to be most effective, the honor code must be well implemented and strongly embedded into student culture (McCabe & Trevino, 2002).
Bottom line: The honor code should encourage the development of good character and outline specific deterrents to cheating (e.g., clear penalties that are meaningful to students).
- Set Consequences and Hold Students Accountable
When students perceive high levels of cheating by their peers and a lack of punishment for cheating, they are more likely to cheat themselves (McCabe, Trevino, & Butterfield, 2001). An honor code doesn’t mean anything if there aren’t any appropriate consequences for when students break it. Schools must develop fair and consistent grading policies and procedures, remove opportunities to cheat (e.g., monitor tests, be sure there is ample space between test-takers), punish transgressions in a fair and timely manner. Students need to understand what could happen should they choose not to adhere to the honor code. What are the consequences when students do it? Are those consequences made clear to parents/guardians and students from the start of the year?
Bottom line: Continually communicate classroom expectations, and hold students accountable to their own learning through clearly a clearly defined honor code.
Customize an Honor Code into the course that students must agree to before progressing to a test or exam. Edgenuity has created two sample honor codes that teachers can use in his/her classroom:
- Address Peer Culture
Research shows that peer culture plays a large role in why students cheat. Data indicate that when students perceive high levels of cheating by their peers, they are more likely to cheat themselves (McCabe, Trevino, & Butterfield, 2001).
Bottom line: Address any instances of cheating right away and apply the consequences set out by the classroom honor code and student contract.
- Foster Strong Connections to Students
Research shows that students are more likely to cheat when they perceive their instructor to be less concerned about them and think they are physically farther away from the classroom (Stuber-McEwen, Winseley, & Hoggatt, 2009). To discourage cheating, experts recommend teachers develop a strong presence—either online or offline (Stuber-McEwen, Winseley, & Hoggatt, 2009). When teachers get to know students personally it promotes student respect. When students respect their teacher they are less likely to cheat.
Bottom line: Continue to foster a positive, honest classroom with open dialog and mutual respect for one another.
- Use Digital Tools
We recommend that Edgenuity users, within the Edgenuity system:
- Set the desired number of Fail Attempts (retakes) and use Auto Progression to discourage unlimited retakes for assessments. If students are allowed only one, or even zero, retakes for heavily weighted assessments after they’ve failed them, they know they must work hard to do well on them. Review these settings periodically to be sure that they’re working for your students.
- Use the Hide Viewed Questions setting with Save and Exit, so students cannot return to answer any questions they saw before saving and exiting the assessment.
- Set Teacher Review on assessments to ensure students take assessments in proctored environments. Teacher Review alerts educators when a student has reached an assessment, giving the teacher the chance to review the work students have submitted. This presents an opportunity for educators to confirm that students are completing their work as they’re supposed to (checking student eNotes, for example), and to also check in to make sure they’re understanding the content.
- Enable IP Registry. When activated, IP Registry can block students from accessing assessments from home—or block students from accessing Edgenuity from outside the school network at all.
- Set up the SecureLock Browser Experience. The SecureLock Browser Experience will prevent students from opening new tabs, browsers, and programs while they’re working in Edgenuity.
- Set and communicate student expectations. Inform students what it takes to be successful online learners.
- Spot-check open-ended questions. Look for any answers that seem out-of-the-ordinary or verbiage that sounds like an adult worded.
- Compare the time it took the student to complete the assessment and if they received a passing score.
- Keep an eye on the Progress percentage. There should not be a drastic change in percentage complete for the student.
Outside the Edgenuity system, Edgenuity users should:
- Hide educator passwords where student cannot find them. Consider using a password manager application, which can securely store a large number of passwords.
- Don’t post assessments or answer keys on easily found and accessed websites. If you can find these documents with a simple web search, students can, too.
- Block websites on your school network that are known to post answers to assessment questions. Edgenuity does regular web crawls to look for this, but if you come across any Edgenuity content on the Internet, please notify Customer Support. We will take the appropriate steps to address this issue.
What Should I Do If Edgenuity Answers are Found Online?
This is regrettable.
Edgenuity has partnered with Brainly for both our Courseware and Odysseyware offerings. This allows customers a dedicated email support ability to communicate concerns quickly, and effectively route concerns to help students use Edgenuity courses in the proper manner. For Brainly-specific items found on the web, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the direct link to the content.
All other issues should be directed to Edgenuity's Support team at CustomerSupport@edgenuity.com. Support will work with our security teams to have this content removed. We also actively scrub the internet for Edgenuity questions and answers, although sometimes it's tough to stay ahead of the students. The extra hand from our fellow educators that notify us of the websites and content submissions we have missed is appreciated.
- For schools or districts, this guide might be helpful when considering the academic integrity policies: Edgenuity Implementation Guide to Ensuring Academic Integrity.
- Check out some sample student contracts that your peers have offered up to edit: Sample Student Contracts.
- We also recommend Dan Ariely's excellent book The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, as a fantastic study in the behavioral economics behind cheating and a great resource for ideas that really work.
Find additional information on Academic Integrity on our website.
- International Center for Academic Integrity. (2017). Statistics. Retrieved from
- Ma, H., Lu, Y., Turner, S., & Wan, G. (2007). An empirical investigation of digital cheating and plagiarism among middle school students. American Secondary Education, 35(2), 69-82.
- McCabe, D. & Trevino, L. (1993). Academic dishonesty: Honor codes and other contextual influences. The Journal of Higher Education, 64(5), 552-538.
- McCabe, D., Trevino, L., Butterfield, K. (2001) Cheating in academic institutions: A decade of research, Ethics & Behavior, 11(3), 219-232.
- McCabe, D., Trevino, L., & Butterfield, K. (2002). Honor codes and other contextual influences on academic integrity: A replication and extension to modified honor code settings. Research in Higher Education, 43(3), 357-378.
- Stuber-McEwen, D., Winseley, P., & Hoggatt, S. (2009). Point, click, and cheat: Frequency and type of academic dishonesty in the virtual classroom. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 12(3).