Academic Honesty Policy


Fairfax County Public Schools | IB Schools Academic Honesty Policy

Fairfax County Schools encourage students to demonstrate the ability to work interdependently within groups to increase productivity and achieve common goals. Students should act responsibly and ethically. To develop academic honesty in all students, FCPS views cheating and plagiarizing as unacceptable behaviors that have moral and legal implications. Cheating is violating established rules and codes of ethics. Plagiarizing is falsely claiming authorship. Cheating and plagiarizing are serious offenses.


  1. ib-logoTeachers have the responsibility to:
    1. Teach or review the correct use of sources and citations when assigning work.
    2. Structure conditions during testing to alleviate the possibility of cheating.
    3. Specify the types of collaboration that are discouraged and those that are encouraged.
  2. Students have the responsibility to:
    1. Avoid situations that might contribute to cheating or plagiarizing.
    2. Avoid unauthorized assistance.
    3. Use sources in the prescribed manner.
    4. Document borrowed materials by citing sources.
    5. Avoid plagiarism by using quotation marks for statements taken from others, by acknowledging information and ideas borrowed from any source, and by consulting faculty members about questionable situation.
    6. Avoid “cutting” and “pasting” from computer text without proper attribution.


Students who violate “the spirit or the letter of the law” as regards cheating and plagiarizing must accept responsibility for their actions and the accompanying consequences. Consequences may include:

  1. parent-student-administrator conference.
  2. A lowering of the grade or receiving an F for the assignment.
  3. An alternative assignment or recompletion of the original assignment.

Implementation of the Academic Honesty Policy at Robinson Secondary School

Statement of Purpose

“Students may sometimes be tempted to plagiarize work because they are unable to cope with the task that has been set for them. They may recognize content that is relevant but may not be able to paraphrase or summarize, for example. To promote the development of conceptual understanding in students, teachers must take responsibility to set meaningful tasks that can be completed either independently or with the appropriate amount of scaffolding. Making the process of inquiry visible should be integral to all teaching and learning in IB programmes”  (Academic Honesty in the IB Educational Context)

As members of a democratic society as well as an International Baccalaureate World School, we embrace the need to teach personal and social responsibility.  One of our primary aims is to help students embody the ten attributes of the IB Learner Profile.  By teaching the value of academic honesty, we allow students to work on the Learner Profile attribute of being principled.  Becoming a principled individual involves developing a sense of fairness, justice and respect towards oneself and one’s community, and the school plays a vital role in creating opportunities within the curriculum to address the need for academic honesty and the link between one’s integrity and submitting one’s own, authentic work. 

Teacher Responsibilities

Teachers at Robinson Secondary recognize that students engage in academic misconduct for a variety of reasons:  lack of confidence in a subject area, poor time management skills, external pressures to achieve high grades, a misunderstanding of what constitutes plagiarism, collusion and cheating, failure to value assigned tasks, skipping class on assessment days and poor judgment.  It is therefore incumbent upon the staff to teach skills, scaffold assignments, and talk openly with students about principled behavior and making ethical choices.  Research shows that when academic honesty is discussed prior to an assessment, the percentage of students who engage ethically is much higher. 

Further, teachers should make clear the relevance and value of assignments.  When students see a task as worthwhile because it connects to their own lives, because it helps them to make connections between concepts and when it invites interdisciplinary thinking, they are more likely to treat the task respectfully.   Teachers also create assessments that encourage honesty.  Such assessments involve problem-solving, analysis and synthesis of material, and application of understanding.  These tasks typically invite students to respond with short answers, essays, illustrations and diagrams, and mathematical computations, as well as through oral presentations and seminars – tasks that do not lend themselves to cheating.  All course syllabi distributed at the beginning of the school year state the expectations and responsibilities with regard to producing authentic work.

Teachers use modeling and practicing to create confidence in students and, in certain disciplines offer revision opportunities before a grade is given.  Teachers are encouraged to give credit to the resources that they use in handouts and power points as a way of demonstrating expectations for crediting the work of others.

School Responsibilities

The IB coordinators annually engage teachers in discussion concerning academic honesty, including the expectations of the International Baccalaureate.  Professional development, delivered by our faculty members and offered through Fairfax County Public Schools, George Mason University and IBMA (IB Mid-Atlantic Association) provide teachers with approaches to teaching and learning that assist student learning. The school ensures that all teachers take part annually in professional development that encourages best practices.  The school works to establish a climate of open communication and dialogue so that students feel comfortable talking with teachers and counselors when they need extra help or deadline extensions. Robinson has, in most departments, adopted a policy of second chance assessments so that students can take intellectual risks, re-learn material and authentically and honestly engage in assessments. 

All students in IB exam level classes are addressed by the coordinators through the classes when they review exam registrations.  The Fairfax County contract (see attached) is explained, including #3 regarding academic honesty and the resulting consequences for academic misconduct.  During the first week of school, all high school students review the Fairfax County Student Rights and Responsibilities document and the academic honesty policy.

The administrative staff is committed to following through when students are referred for academic misconduct and keeping records so that patterns can be discerned.  The school has also initiated a policy of red, yellow green and created posters signifying when personal technology may be used in the classroom.

Parent Responsibilities

Both the MYP and the Diploma Program IB Coordinators present information nights for parents in which academic honesty is discussed and consequences stated.  Furthermore, these programs offer suggestions to parents about how they can support the school’s efforts through modeling ethical behavior, encouraging their students to seek out teachers if they are having trouble with assignments rather than resorting to academic misconduct, and initiating conversations with their children that focus on learning over grade success.

Academic Misconduct Defined

The IB defines academic misconduct as behavior that results in, or may result in, the student or any other student gaining an unfair advantage in one or more assessment components.

Academic misconduct includes:

Plagiarism—the representation, intentionally or unwittingly, of the ideas, words or work of another person without proper, clear and explicit acknowledgment

Collusion—supporting academic misconduct by another student, as in allowing one’s work to be copied or submitted for assessment by another

Duplication of work—the presentation of the same work for different assessment components

Any other behavior that gives an unfair advantage to a student or that affects the results of another student (falsifying data, misconduct during an examination, creating spurious reflections).

Specific examples of student behavior that constitute academic misconduct (including, but not limited to)

  • Communicating with other students during an individual assessment, whether in the classroom, out in the hallway, or through technology such as texting and emailing.
  • Use of undocumented material in one’s paper or presentation, presented as if the material is the student’s original idea and/or phrasing.
  • Failure to take responsibility during a collaborative assignment but accepting the grade or mark for the work that was completed by others.
  • Using technology such as smart phones to access information during an exam or test.
  • Translating work using Google Translator rather than doing the translation oneself.
  • Copy another student’s work on an assessment or on a homework sheet or set of problems, and present it as one’s own work.
  • Bring prohibited outside material to use on an assessment.

Examples of Ways that Students Can Ensure Academic Honesty

  • Students who do not understand concepts and material that will be assessed in a class have a number of options.  Robinson runs two or three 45 minute remediation periods (known as RAISE) each week.  Students can meet with teachers during that time to receive extra help and assistance in completing assignments.  Student tutors are also available during RAISE.  Teachers are also available after school, with late bus transportation provided 3 days a week.  Students can also speak with teachers to negotiate later deadlines in some cases in order to have more time to work through material and clarify understanding.  By actively seeking help, students can avoid the temptation to plagiarize, use translating programs, and copy other students’ work.
  • Students should turn off their phones upon entering a classroom or exam setting.  Teachers may also ask students to place their phones in a box in the front of the room during the assessment.
  • When assigned group tasks, students should work together from the beginning to clarify responsibilities, establish a timeline, and take on manageable tasks.  The group should keep the teacher informed if members are struggling to complete their responsibilities so that the teacher can step in.
  • Students should adhere to schedules set by teachers for steps in a task such as an Internal Assessment so that they can work at a comfortable pace and do not run into too much to do with not enough time at the final deadline.  Maintaining an assignment notebook, either physical or electronic, with all intermediary and final deadlines, can help students keep track of what they need to do on a daily basis.
  • Teachers at Robinson maintain Blackboard sites where students can access copies of handouts and assignments, review calendars, and read updated announcements.  Using Blackboard regularly helps students to avoid situations where they are unaware of requirements and due dates.

Procedures – Reporting, recording and monitoring

Robinson has adopted a policy of consequences that considers that students are young people who make mistakes.  These developmental considerations are especially relevant for our middle school students.  As a result, middle school administrators may use their professional judgment to deviate from the consequences listed below.

It is important that students understand what they have done and why it is unethical, and that repeated offenses lead to stronger consequences. (These are cumulative offenses during the high school years at RBSS, not in just one class.)

Robinson Secondary School Academic Honesty Policy

First offense: If a student cheats on a major assessment, they may retake the assessment within 5 school days with the following penalty:

  • 70% of the grade earned on the retest

  • Required student reflection after meeting with the administrator

  • Student will be placed on a one year long probation for all honor societies 

Second offense:  If a student cheats on a major assessment, they may retake the assessment within 5 school days with the following penalty:

  • 60% of the grade earned on the retest

  • Saturday school detention

  • Student will be dismissed from all Honor societies. If a student is not yet a member of an honor society, they may not apply to be a member for the next school year

Third offense and subsequent offenses:  If a student cheats on a major assessment, they may retake the assessment within 5 school days with the following penalty:

  • 50% of the grade earned on the retest

  • Up to two days of ISS

  • Student will be prohibited from applying to SGA or any other school leadership role for the next academic year 

Honor societies

  • Students can apply with only one offense, but only for probationary status

  • Probationary period lasts for the remainder of the school year

  • If a student is late to a required meeting, does not complete service hour requirements, or suffers another malpractice infraction, that student is then dismissed from the honor society

Minor assessment incidences of malpractice

  • Minor assessments include formative or informal assessments, classwork or homework

  • Malpractice within minor assessments  will be handled within the classroom by the classroom teacher

  • Class grade consequence will be a zero for that assignment

  • Teachers will inform parents of malpractice via email and cc grade level administrator

  • If a student accumulates 3 separate instances of minor assessment malpractice, he/she will then be moved to the first major offense consequence status.

Within IB Diploma Program courses:

In IB exam-level classes, additional consideration is given to the IB Internal and External Assessments.  Students who are guilty of plagiarism or collusion on an IA or external assessment to be mailed to an outside evaluator will be asked, if time allows, to re-do the assignment so that it meets the standards for submission to IB.  Students who do not submit work in a timely fashion so that there is the opportunity to revise will receive an “N” for the internal or external assignment.  Students who bring unauthorized material to an IB exam or oral assessment will automatically be considered guilty of academic misconduct.  These students will receive an “N” in place of a score, lose the 1.0 GPA addition for the class and re-pay Fairfax County Public Schools the exam fee for that course.

Guidance for Teachers and Students on Intellectual Property and the Authenticity of Student Work

To practice academic honesty at a high level, students should have a working understanding of the concept of “Intellectual Property.”  As opportunities present themselves in the course of instruction, teachers should help students understand that intellectual property refers to the products of creative work, including inventions and works of art, and that there are legal protections for intellectual property.  Further, students should understand that there are legal consequences for those who violate another person’s intellectual property rights through plagiarism, illegal downloads, and other means.

By understanding the intellectual property rights of others and by honoring those through proper citation/acknowledgment, students can ensure the authenticity of their academic work.  Unless collaboration has been authorized by the teacher in advance, it is expected that a student’s authentic work is the result of the student’s own ideas and efforts.  When the student has made use of another person’s work or ideas, whether via paraphrase or direct quotation, the source must be cited. 

Proper citations should be created in MLA or APA format.  Multiple resources on examples and conventions of proper citations can be found on Robinson Library’s Citations Lib Guide.  In addition, Noodle Tools software has been provided by FCPS to aid students in properly attributing and citing sources.  Robinson’s librarians incorporate instruction on proper attribution, citation, and intellectual property rights as part of all lessons involving research.

Finally, to ensure the authenticity of student work, students and teachers should have a shared understanding of collaboration versus collusion.  Collaboration, when authorized by teachers, allows that students share ideas and information towards a common goal.  The final product may be joint or individual, depending on teacher instruction.  The line into collusion is crossed when another student’s work is submitted as one’s own without attribution and/or when working jointly on an assignment has not been authorized by the teacher.


Policy Review

This policy will be annually reviewed by the Instructional Council, the school’s teacher leadership group, in conjunction with the administrative staff.