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Academic Integrity in International Schools

Author: Mark Botelho Posted: 2017-05-16

While teaching overseas in many different international American curriculum schools, I've run across a few situations where academic integrity has come into questions. The integrity in question often had to do with seniors and their grade point averages (GPA). Unlike public schools in the United States, the cliental of these schools are often from a high socio economic status and perhaps see themselves as entitled. This was made very clear to me recently when a student who rarely participated in my class received a grade that reflected the work artifacts and his understanding. Shortly after the term was over and final grades entered, I receive a correspondence from the parents requesting that all late work be graded and that their child was to receive the highest mark possible. Of course, I was flabbergasted!

This situation made me think of what is expected of parents and student regarding their integrity as well as mine as the teacher. It also has a great deal to do with the school culture and the leadership team as well. Aspects of participating in a class for the teacher must deal with equality for all students. This should entail that if one student receives preferential treatment regarding time given to complete an assignment, or an added opportunity to correct their work, that all students are afforded that same opportunity. So, if one student were to request either late or make-up work, every student's work must be re-evaluated to be fair and equitable. This of course would create a back-log of work for the teacher and negatively affect all students as there would have to be a sacrifice of content covered in the term to allow for time to re-cover the late or make-up content.

Professionally trained teachers are constantly monitoring course work in every aspect. From analyzing each question to ensure it is fair and fully understood by students, to the amount of time needed to complete tasks related to content. Teachers are always engaged. To question a task given by a teacher to their students by a parent or leadership team member is to question a teacher's professionalism. The litmus test for the before mentioned tasks, is to judge if most students were capable to complete the task adequately. If they can complete the task with expected results the task must then be considered legitimately suited for the students in the course, and no further interrogation should be needed. Otherwise teacher are trained to modify the course to reflect a change needed to correct any irregularities.

When teachers are confronted with a situation where parents interfere with the integrity of a professional teacher, the school culture must be looked upon with skepticism. Leaders should primarily support their trained professional teachers, yet keep a dialog open to parents while informing them of the professional environment that honors the ideal of academic integrity in its purest form.

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