QUEEN CREEK, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - In just seconds, somebody else is the reason your “F” turns into an “A.”
“Almost every kid, I think. So many kids cheat in every class,” said high school freshman Olivia Oberly.
“If somebody already has the answers, why would they do the work if they could just copy it off?” said high school sophomore Gracyn Crosby.
But gone are the days of whispering the answer to a friend. This is a new era of cheating in school.
“You don’t have to have their number to AirDrop it, so it’s just a way to get answers fast. Like in the middle of a test, just snap a picture and they have it,” said Oberly.
It starts with one student. They send answers out through their smart watch and anyone in the classroom who has a device like a phone, iPad or smart watch, and has Airdrop turned on, can get the answers in an instant.
Oberly and Crosby are high schoolers in Queen Creek and said kids cheat like this every day. They said when it's not through AirDrop it, it's on different apps, some that automatically just do the work for you.
“Snapchat and Photo Math, have you heard of that?” said Oberly. “You just take a picture of the math problem and it tells you the answer.”
These girls said there's a troubling trend too. Class homework is a breeze.
“A lot of people copy off the one, the smartest person in the class, so everyone will get 100% on the homework,” said Crosby.
But then, sometimes students aren't able to cheat during the test.
“We fail the test, so the teacher obviously knows that something is going on,” she said.
And the reality is, teachers can’t keep up.
“If it’s cheatable, they’re gonna figure out a way,” said Maggie Fountain. “Yeah, I think for sure the students are quicker to know the technologies and how to use them than the teachers now.”
Fountain is a teacher with the Tempe Union High School district.
“These kids that are cheating, do you think they’re bad kids?” asked reporter Briana Whitney.
“No! Not at all, not at all,” she said. “They cheat because it’s a shortcut. They’ve got a lot of pressure on their plate.”
She said to students, it's about an instant solution because often they don't value the content they're learning. They just want to get it over with, while still getting by.
But she also said years ago, testing went more toward multiple choice and streamlined answers, answers that can be quickly graded.
But that also makes it easy to cheat.
“Now what we’re realizing after a few years of doing that, is it isn’t producing the kind of student learning that we want,” Fountain said.
Oberly said ultimately, it's showing in AZ Merit standardized scores too.
“When it comes to the state testing, and all that stuff where you can’t cheat off of, it’s embarrassing,” she said.
Fountain said teachers and schools need to write better tests that require critical thinking, where there may be several right answers, and students must apply what they've learned, so it's harder to cheat.
“It isn’t that life has always got one answer that’s the right answer, it’s finding the best answer and supporting that answer,” said Fountain.
She said some teachers are trying to tackle technology before a test even begins.
“A lot of teachers have places to put phones and devices when they come in,” Fountain said.
But students said that's hardly supervised.
“But kids don’t even follow it. They just keep it in their pocket,” said Crosby. “This kid got his phone taken away, and two minutes later he got caught going on his watch doing the exact same thing.”
This isn't going away; technology is only getting better and faster.
“Does it scare you at all?” Whitney asked Oberly.
“Oh yeah. I don't know the future of it. I don't know what my kids will go through,” she said.
Right from wrong goes out the door, for an “easy A.”
“There’s no escape from it,” said Crosby.