Madison updates honor code with drastic changes in policy

Madeleine LeTendre, Sports Editor

Madison faculty revised the school’s honor code over the duration of last year implementing a new, updated version in August that went into effect for the 2017-2018 school year. The old honor code had been in place for five years.

Assistant Principal Steve Plunkett oversaw this facelift.

“This prior zero-tolerance policy didn’t allow leeway for teachers and administration to adapt to a situation or permit students to grow,” Plunkett said.

A Creative Solutions Committee (CSC) of about 10 teachers worked to develop the new honor code, erstwhile collaborating with faculty to get feedback on the changes. Staff voted upon important aspects of the honor code such as minimum consequences for new honor code infractions.

The most significant modifications of the honor code that were put in place this year include how incidents are approached and recorded, with all honor code violations being documented in Fairfax County Public Schools’ (FCPS) Student Information System (SIS).

Under the revised code, students are given a single warning, recorded in an separate Madison database, before more severe consequences are given. After this warning, students are able to work with teachers personally in order to develop a better learning morale.

“I think this new honor code is a big step away from the zero-tolerance policy. A lot of students suffered because of one mistake,” Matthew Allen (’20) said. “I’m glad that people are now able to change their outlook on testing and not have their future destroyed because of one bad decision.”

Though if a cheating instance is substantial enough, a student may lose the privilege of a warning, and have their first violation recorded directly into SIS.

If a student cheats a second time, their actions will be recorded into SIS as an honor code violation and will face more severe consequences, such as serving community service or receiving an in-school suspension.

This revised recording system also allows for educators to be aware of any cheating that may be occurring within other classes and better tackles the issue of teachers handling cheating incidents independently.

“I think that it’s important that there is a centralized system that records cheating incidents,” James Allen, chair of the English department and AP and honors teacher, said. “I will be moving away from the more individualized system of handling cheating and reporting cases directly to administration.”

Students are also seeing new behaviors amongst teachers regarding the prevention of cheating.

“I am seeing more of my teachers being more strict about using electronics during class because I think a lot of students use their phones to cheat,” Evan Zajkowski (’19) said. “I think that the new honor code is more explicit about what is and isn’t cheating, and what the consequences for cheating are.”

Madison students viewed presentations during the first several Warhawk Times of the school year regarding what is and is not considered cheating at Madison, which aided in students’ understanding of what the new honor code covers.

“I’m really glad that there are clearer guidelines within the new honor code. I think that students really understanding them will help with the amount of students cheating in the classroom,” Abbey Gastrock (’19) said.

Furthermore, with these refined outlines of the honor code and the revised honor code itself, Plunkett hopes that this change “will leave a positive impact on the student body.”