Saturday 25 February 2017

Pupils who boast about cheating get off hook

John Walshe

STUDENTS who boast online about cheating in their Leaving Cert could get away with it because officials are unable to check the claims.

The only way they can be tracked down is if the State Examinations Commission (SEC) goes to court to find out who they are.

On one website yesterday, an entry from "Tommytomtom" claimed he had cheated in three of his exams already and added "sure they could track the IP but they still couldn't prove whether I cheated or not because it's already happened and I wasn't caught".

Other posts give specific instances of alleged cheating, although it is difficult, if not impossible, to verify them. One says a male candidate went to the bathroom four times. Another claims candidates had notes under their jumpers or in socks and that some were using mobile phones.

Another claims to have seen students hiding English poetry texts in the school toilets and there have been claims of students in mobile phone contact with fellow students. A male student was alleged to have had notes in his hoodie.

Penalties for being caught range from withholding part or all of the results to being debarred from entering state exams for a specified period.

Last year, 92 grades were withheld at Leaving and Junior Cert levels but nobody has yet been debarred from sitting state exams since the SEC was set up in 2003.

Suspicious

The SEC confirmed it was monitoring social networking sites and said it had good relationships with the providers of the sites. It is known, for example, that boards.ie contacts the commission to alert it to any suspicious traffic but it is precluded from giving the names of the people who post the entries.

The commission insisted yesterday it would investigate thoroughly any suggestion, suspicion or allegation of impropriety in relation to the exams.

"Given the scale of the exams, it is inevitable that alleged irregularities will occasionally arise. These could involve, for example, allegations of copying or issues of authenticity or impersonation," said a spokesperson.

Irish Independent

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