Red-handed, red-faced during a test

The Dilemma

Best friends Jill and R.T. seem like polar opposites. Jill easily gets straight A’s and will probably qualify for a full ride at a dozen universities — even though her family is so rich she doesn’t need the money. R.T. gets A’s and B’s most of the time, but he really has to work for them. And since his family can’t afford college, he knows his future is riding on every grade he earns.

R.T.’s big problem is that he’s a terrible test-taker. He pays attention in class, understands the material and does well on his homework. But put a test paper in front of him, and his brain turns to jelly. (He gets queasy when he thinks about having to take the ACT later this year.)

The day of a crucial geometry test, R.T. decides to cheat off his friend. He copies only a couple of Jill’s answers — and even works backward to show how he got to those answers — but then Jill looks over and sees what he’s doing. Jill says nothing at the time but confronts R.T. in the hallway after class.

For Discussion

Have your youth read the dilemma, then discuss these questions:

Should Jill turn in her friend? Why or why not?

Does the amount of cheating R.T. did affect your response? Why or why not?

Does the fact that R.T. could work backward from the answers he copied matter? Why or why not?

If Jill does turn in her friend, is there anything she can do to soften the blow?

If she doesn’t turn in her friend, does that make her just as guilty? Why or why not?

Imagine Jill decides not to turn in her friend but also makes him promise to sign up for a test-prep class. Is that a fair solution? Why or why not?

R.T. really needs to make good grades to get into college. Does that make a difference in whether his action is justified? Why or why not?

R.T.’s main problem is test-taking, not learning the material. Does that make a difference in whether his action is justified? Why or why not?

Finally, invite your youth to roleplay different outcomes for this scenario, with an adult leader playing the role of the teacher. Discuss which option is the most fair to everyone involved.

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