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E-mails from “Jane Doe” offered first-year radiologic technologist students in Hawaii “a little help.”

The help consisted of a photo of a multiple-choice test very similar to one they were about to take. According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the messages included some “rules”: Don’t tell anyone. “Slightly diminish” your score to avoid suspicion. Opt out if you don’t want any more “help.”

A student with an academic grievance broke the first rule. Susan Jaworoski, PhD, chairwoman of the school’s academic grievance committee, said in a November 2013 memo that the accusation appeared to be well-founded:

The committee finds that the evidence of cheating in the fall 2012 course appears pervasive and substantial.

The incident occurred at Kapiolani Community College in Honolulu. KCC offers Hawaii’s only radiologic technology program. Kimberly Suwa, the school’s acting director of radiologic technology, said the two-year program accepts just 16 students from about 70 applicants each year.

Suwa said that even before the student’s grievance last June, the school had already come to suspect cheating. She said that test scores were abnormally high and that many students missed the same questions.

Instructors traditionally changed just a few questions on the exam from year to year, Suwa said. Students were required to lock their belongings in a separate room during the tests, but they were not searched, she said. So sneaking a camera-equipped smartphone into the exam room apparently wouldn’t have been difficult. Suwa said the school essentially operated on an honor system:

Previously, we did have more trust in our students.

In May 2013, the program implemented several safeguards against cheating, Suwa said.

The student who filed the grievance said that she didn’t cheat, but that others did, thus leaving her with a relatively lower grade. The grievance committee denied that, saying students were not graded on a curve.

The student fell four points short of a C and was dropped from the program last April. She said she became flustered during her final lab performance and received a 15-point deduction for swearing.

Related CME seminar (up to 35.25 AMA PRA Category 1 credits™): UW Radiology Review Course “Not Just for Residents”

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