“’Lexi, “ asked Emma, “What happened? We studied! We spent all that time talking about the work so you could pass the test. My mom is upset. She wanted to ground me.”
“I don’t know, Em” Alexis responded, “Some dumb computer figured we cheated because our tests looked alike and now we have to do MORE work.” More tears threatened her red eyes.
“Don’t cry. We’ll prove we didn’t do it.”
The hands on the clock in the classroom emitted an audible “CLICK” when they touched on the hour.
“It’s time, Alexis” Said Kat. “Please put down your pencil.”
Alexis responded and sat waiting.
“Would you like to wait while I grade the test?”
Kat wasn’t sure exactly when her stomach dropped out. Probably about halfway through grading the test when she realized it was nearly identical to the retest that Emma had taken in isolation with different questions. The odds against this were overwhelming, but the outcome was irrefutable.
“Alexis, can you please tell me how you prepared to take this test?”
Alexis began to cry. “Please, I didn’t cheat!! I studied real hard!! Me and Emma talked all the time about the work and played games to remember it.”
Kat felt sick. “Alexis, I am very sorry for the accusation of cheating that you girls have been put through. It’s now obvious that you didn’t cheat. Every other time, I had tests that were the same; the kids cheated. You don’t know how happy I am that you didn’t cheat and how sorry I am that you were in trouble.”
“Really?” this was a revelation to Alexis. She thought teachers just taught and got kids in trouble.
“Yes, as a teacher I want my kids to learn. Cheating hurts me because it means a kid doesn’t care about themselves enough to learn. I am so happy that you and Emma care about yourselves enough to do the learning.”
Kat sat in the empty classroom for a long time after Alexis ran out happy. She had felt a slave to the microchip monster this year. Thanks to a couple of good kids, she beat the machine.
“Throw that in your algorithm, and chew!” She said to no one in particular.