It sounds like a scene from a big action film: two people popped out the ceiling tiles in a closet and dropped to the floor. They then stole 27 school exams. These were the end of the year exams that determined your final grade or if you were getting into a university. There were 27 different types of exams, on all subjects and all levels of difficulty. Every school in The Netherlands had these tests and they were supposed to be locked up in a vault, but whatever their security measures were at this particular school, they failed.

The school is a secondary school, like a high school, in Rotterdam. These exams were copied and then sold to students. Most of the students who used these exams were pupils at this one school, but a few other students from other cities also used the tests. How was this scandal revealed?  A man posted the French exam online and that was all that was needed. That was not a very smart move or excuse le mot!

Six pupils at the school have been arrested and then two more people were arrested this past week. The police have requested an interview with 58 students from the school. 5 were already on vacation and 2 failed to show up, but the police did speak to 51 students. Those questioned are believed to have used the stolen exams.

The school has made the entire student body take another exam. Obviously, a new exam was given, but all students had to take this new test. This was not welcome news for some students, especially for those who honestly studied and did not cheat. By the way, they were given only three days to take the new exams.  Some had to come back from holidays or change their flights, etc. just to take this test.  Of those who are under suspicion, the school has given them a second chance. They can take another test and continue their education, but if they do not take the test and pass, then they have to repeat the entire school year.

This is the worst case of exam fraud in Dutch history. It has been greatly investigated on local and national levels, and there is no evidence that any other school had a similar problem. But I imagine that there will be stricter guidelines in place by next year. Don’t forget that there is a criminal investigation going on, and the students could still be prosecuted.

As I write this, I am reminded of that musical classic by The Osmonds “One bad apple”. Again and again, we see the actions of a few people affect a whole community. For those kids who did not cheat, they have had to sit for exams again. Was the theft for money, for greed? Or was it because the thieves were desperate to pass the exams and knew that they could not if they did not cheat?  Just a short time ago, I had to take an exam in my Dutch language course. I was extremely stressed about it. I had Dutch verbs posted on the kitchen walls and I even posted some Dutch words in the bathroom too. I studied and studied for that exam, to the point that I would dream Dutch words and wake up with Dutch words floating in my foggy brain. I almost hyperventilated on my way to school that night, I was that nervous. The exam was long and hard and I believed that I had failed. But I was wrong…I passed. The idea of having to take another exam because a group of students cheated, would not make me a happy camper either.  And as much as we know there are bad apples in every bunch, as Donny sang, we also know that there are a lot of fabulous apples. The honest people will win.

Recommended viewing: there are so many wonderful films about being in school and I will choose just one for now. It is one of my favorite films and performances—The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie starring Maggie Smith. If you have not seen this film, please do. If you are a fan of Downton Abbey and of Maggie’s character, then you too will have a treat by seeing her as a much younger woman.

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  • Carol  On July 16, 2013 at 10:57 pm

    Oh my…. crime doesn’t pay. It was bad for the honest students, but also a good lesson to them all.

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