The last several years in education have been filled with turmoil: cheating scandals, debates and protests over curriculum and testing, big changes in the way students are taught. The new year offers brings more changes—but also an opportunity to find solutions to old problems and reach common ground on the divisions of the past. Here's a look at some of the big questions in education for 2014.
Will schools come up with a plan to prevent cheating? Cheating scandals have plagued every level of education in recent years. There were the Stuyvesant high school students who cheated on the New York State graduation exams. There were the Harvard students who cheated on their government final. And there were the Atlanta Public School teachers who fixed incorrect answers on their students’ high-stakes tests. And the potential for another high-profile scandal remains high: 10 percent of this fall’s Harvard freshman confessed to having cheated on an exam in high school; 42 percent said they’d cheated on homework or a problem set.
Last year showed some signs hope, though. A college professor named James M. Lang published Cheating Lessons: Learning From Academic Dishonesty. It argued that the best way to combat cheating is to make learning complex and compelling enough that students won’t be able to cheat easily—and that they won’t want to. The new president of Princeton University was so alarmed by the rise of cheating in schools and universities that he assigned incoming students to read philosophy professor Anthony Appiah’s book Honor Code, about the history of morality. People within academia are obviously trying to understand why people cheat and coming up with solutions. Hopefully 2014 will be the year a clearer, more widespread plan to fix this problem emerges.