It’s summer break for most Bay Area students, but for some at Palo Alto High School, the first day back on campus may not be a pleasant one.
Palo Alto High administrators said Thursday that some tenth- and eleventh-grade students had cheated on an Algebra 2 final during the last days of school. Tabitha Kappeler-Hurley, a spokesperson for Palo Alto Unified School District, said students admitted that someone had taken a picture of the test and passed it around.
She added two teachers realized something wasn’t right when students finished the two-hour test in half an hour and submitted the correct answers without showing any work.
“We decided we would not count any of the finals so that would put everybody back to the grade that they had prior to taking the final last week,” Kappeler-Hurley said.
Recent graduates told NBC Bay Area that cheating is pervasive on campus and seems to be growing more frequent as competition for getting into college gets more cutthroat.
“Copying homework is like on a daily basis for some people,” Jafar Alkenany said. “They have little study groups. You go to the library after school, everybody swaps homework.”
This isn’t the first time students have been caught trying to best the system at Palo Alto High School this year.
Kappeler-Hurley said earlier in the year a senior was caught hacking into the computer system to change her grades. Both Alkenany and fellow recent graduate, Michael Choi, also pointed to another recent cheating scandal on AP Psychology tests.
“The teachers have been saying it’s been going on throughout the whole year but it’s most prominent in second semester,” Choi said.
Alkenany had some advice for incoming freshmen: relax.
“Where you go to college and the grades you get is not going to define who you are,” he said. “Being a good person and finding what you want to do is going to help you a lot more.”
The 112 students who took the Algebra 2 final have the option of retaking it June 10 or August 13. Kappeler-Hurley said the investigation into the students who cheated will continue and disciplinary action is still on the table.