It's a message no parent wants to receive: A notification from the high school saying your child is accused of violating test conditions and/or cheating on a test. This type of allegation has become more commonplace in recent months as more high schoolers have been attending school remotely due to the pandemic. It may be a simple mistake or misunderstanding, not even a legitimate attempt to cheat—but if the school is convinced that wrongdoing took place, the consequences could be harsh and long-lasting.
If you're a high school student facing possible disciplinary action for violating test conditions, or if you have a child being accused of doing so, the odds may not be in your favor without some outside help. High schools face intense pressure to maintain academic integrity—even more so in remote learning environments—and as a result, high school students have a higher chance of being wrongly accused and punished, affecting their ability to get into the best colleges and earn respectable degrees. Hiring an attorney-advisor to help in student discipline cases can go a long way toward having the matter resolved with little or no damage to your (or your child's) academic career. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped many students across the nation to fight unfair charges of misconduct, including violating test conditions.
What Does It Mean to Violate Test Conditions?
Violating test conditions is a form of academic misconduct in which a student either breaks the rules regarding materials allowed in the testing environment or otherwise manages to gain an unfair advantage in the testing room.
Tests are administered to measure how well you have learned the course material, and schools require a certain type of testing environment that makes helps keep students honest. With in-person learning, it's much easier for schools to control the testing environment (although some students still find ways to game the system). With at-home learning, it's much more difficult for schools to enforce the approved testing conditions, in part because it's easier for students to conceal the answers off-camera or to look up answers online.
Examples of violating test conditions, either in person or remotely, may include the following:
- Sneaking test answers into the testing room
- Sneaking a smartphone into the testing room to look up answers
- Creating a code system with a classmate to pass answers back and forth
- Taking a test remotely in a room where the test answers are easily accessible
- Taking a test remotely without an approved proctor present
- Taking more than the allotted amount of time to complete a test
How Students May Be Falsely Accused of Violating Test Conditions
For in-person learning, it's more difficult for students to violate test conditions, so it's actually easier for schools to prove motive because the violation must usually be done on purpose. For remote learning, however, false accusations are more common because the school can't control the testing environment, so they are naturally more attuned to suspicious activity. Many high schools now utilize online proctor platforms like ProctorU to monitor students taking tests online. These platforms use AI technology to watch students' behaviors on camera and flag suspicious eye movements, delays, etc. Thus, a student could even be flagged for looking too often off-camera in a certain direction, taking too long for a bathroom break, or other behaviors the program deems suspicious—even if the student made no attempt to cheat.
Consequences for Violating Test Conditions
High schools take academic misconduct very seriously, including violating test conditions. Depending on the specific policies of your high school, penalties might include one or more of the following:
- Getting a failing grade on the test
- Getting a failing grade for the entire course
- Being required to re-take the class
- Being required to repeat a year of school
- Being disqualified from extra-curricular activities, honors societies, etc.
- A negative notation on your transcript
- Being suspended or expelled from school
Any of these consequences can have a lasting impact on a student's ability to move forward academically or even qualify for certain jobs. These penalties can lower your GPA, disqualify you from certain scholarships and grants to pay for school, and even disqualify you from acceptance at certain colleges and universities.
The Disciplinary Process
Most high schools outline their process of student discipline in their Code of Conduct or Student Handbook. Generally speaking, the process usually looks similar to the steps below.
- Confronting the student directly
- Notifying the parents of the accusation
- Investigating the accusation to determine if there is evidence to support it
- Calling a meeting with the parents and students to discuss the infraction
- Making a final decision of guilt or innocence and deciding on a penalty
- The student and/or parents may appeal the decision before it becomes final
Why You Need an Attorney-Advisor
High school is not a democracy, and schools are not required to adhere to a presumption of innocence when investigating academic wrongdoing. This puts you (or your child) at an immediate disadvantage when accused of misconduct. While high schools usually don't permit attorneys to represent students in an official capacity, the students and parents do have the right to have an attorney acting in an advisory role. An experienced attorney-advisor will help you and your child understand what is at stake and what to expect during the disciplinary process. The advisor can also provide expert advice as to the best ways to disprove the allegations and how to negotiate for an amicable resolution—preferably one that does little or no damage to the student academically. Perhaps most importantly, the presence of an attorney-advisor can help keep the school accountable to its own policies and procedures, so your child is given due process and a fair chance to defend against the accusations.
The charge of violating test conditions is an ambiguous one, a slippery slope at best. On the one hand, students are easily falsely accused of it; on the other, it can be easy to disprove, especially with the help of an attorney-advisor. Joseph D. Lento has successfully helped thousands of students defend themselves against unfair accusations of misconduct across the United States. Don't let a mistake, misunderstanding, or misstep derail your child's future. Call the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 to see how we can help.