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It is estimated that at least 70 per cent of university students cheated at some point during their high school years. Many continue to do it (and few get caught) once they move on to post-secondary education. And research shows those who cheat in school go on to cheat in life.   Those cheaters are everywhere, because ours is a culture where honesty has been de-valued and a win-at-any-costs strategy is encouraged.  


University of Toronto students

It's time to take a hard look at this phenomenon.  In a new one-hour documentary called FAKING THE GRADE, students, administrators, parents and teachers speak about their experiences around what's known as "Academic Integrity", while experts provide insight into why students cheat. Those experts say it's no surprise that young people cheat.  They see it going on everywhere in the world of sports and entertainment, and especially business.

"I think we've been raising, and are raising, now a generation that have a hard time making the distinction really deep down inside between right and wrong," says Don McCabe, a professor of management and global business at Rutgers University and one of North America's leading researchers in the Academic Integrity field, adding that just telling your children not to cheat isn't really the solution. "It's tough because if you tell your kid not to cheat that child is immediately at a disadvantage, and if you tell them to cheat, I think you put them in a longer term disadvantage of greater consequence.  I see it as almost a no win situation for parents today, which is very unfortunate."


Cheating - with electronics

The film reveals what comprises a cheating offence (it's not a black or white matter) and how the internet and electronic technology are now being used to cheat - and to catch the cheaters.  In FAKING THE GRADE, viewers will discover the wide variety of other techniques young people are using to cheat: everything from bribery to sabotage (the latter: where a student makes sure others can't find the research they need to complete an assignment).    All of this is set in the context of some shocking, real-life examples of dishonesty - from students paying others to sit exams for them, to teachers changing the marks on standardized tests to make themselves and their schools look good.   It all prompts an important question: what does all this cheating say about how important honesty is to our children…..and to all of us?

For the first time, viewers will get a comprehensive look at the causes and the extent of academic dishonesty.  FAKING THE GRADE offers commentary on 'boomer' culture, 'helicopter' parenting, and a generation of children that is leaving the nest late and delaying making decisions about their lives.

Directed, written and produced by Andy Blicq for Merit Motion Pictures in association with CBC-TV.

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