Honoring Our Honor Code

  • Head's Note
Tobin Bechtel

December is usually a time of reflection and gratitude - yet this year we are all looking forward more than usual with hope that 2021 will be better than the pandemic predicament within which we had to manage. In spite of this, we have a lot we can be proud of this year. The spirit and flexibility of our faculty and families has been truly heartening all the way through this crisis. While our students have been challenged in so many ways, they have pushed what it means to live by our pillars to new heights.

As a direct example of this, I have been impressed by the work of our Honor Council on being creative with how we can visually demonstrate our commitment to our honor code through individual contributions of signed statements as a collective display of student integrity at Sage Ridge.  Our honor council and code have been part of our school since its founding. Students and faculty have worked together over the years to refine our code and ensure that it is a living principle in our school.

Research has consistently shown that “honor pledges not only are surprisingly effective in curbing cheating; they also promote honesty … and found that schools that are committed to honor codes have significantly reduced cheating rates compared with schools that are not.” Dr. Christian B. Miller from Wake Forest University cites a key study in a recent op-ed:

Donald McCabe at Rutgers Business School and Linda Treviño at the Smeal College of Business at Penn State found a 23 percent rate of helping someone with answers on a test at colleges without an honor code, versus only 11 percent at schools with an honor code. They reported impressive differences as well for plagiarism (20 percent versus 10 percent), unauthorized crib notes (17 percent versus 11 percent) and unpermitted collaboration (49 percent versus 27 percent), among other forms of cheating.

An honor code serves as an ethical and moral imperative in a school that upholds it to the best of its ability. It does not eliminate dishonesty and cheating but it does place values at the center of our culture from grade 3 through to graduation. As Dr. Miller observes, “students who abide by them refrain from cheating not because they can’t, but because they choose not to.”  

Study is hard work. Having the integrity to produce our own work is the mark of a true scholar and embedded in our pillars and school culture. I believe our students are immersed in the challenge of incorporating these pillars into their lives in school and beyond. While it may seems a small piece, it is a critical one that sets them apart in developing the type of leaders our world needs.

  • head's note
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