Cheating is Cheating and the punishment should be the same for those caught!

Microsoft recently announced a new measure to crack down on certification exam cheating (http://www.networkworld.com/newsletters/edu/2008/070708ed1.html) and I applaud their efforts. I have stated before (and countless others have said the same thing) that to increase the value of a certification, you must curtail the ability for people to cheat. I believe a lot more could be done, but that would involve a large commitment of time and money – but hey, it is only their certifications and certification program that is affected right? Under the new program that will be implemented later this summer, If a person or a test-center is caught cheating they will stiff punishment. Peggy Crowley, the anti-piracy program manager for the Microsoft Learning department said “We used to have a year-long ban for some things and a lifetime ban for other things and then we decided that cheating is cheating across the board and why delineate between the two? So we decided to do a lifetime ban for all forms of cheating.” This is all very good news for the certification program and bad news for cheaters. Test takers will face a lifetime ban and test centers that are caught will face suspension (but can petition for reinstatement after three years). Here is the kicker though, the test-center (CPLS) and can seek reinstatement after three years; the test-taker is still banned for life. This is where I have an issue with this new measure. A test-taker caught cheating has a life-time ban, but a test center faces a three year suspension? But didn’t Peggy just that “cheating is cheating”? So why should there be a difference in the punishment meted out – cheating is cheating right? A test center should face the same penalty as the test-taker. But this is not the case? Why is this? I wasn’t invited to the meetings to discuss this subject, so I can only surmise here, but this definitely seems to be a case of double-standards. My first thought was that since many test centers are also CPLSs that Microsoft doesn’t want to alienate the CPLSs? Which I am sure was not the case. But still, in the end, what does a test-center (CPLS) face: SUSPENSION (and they can seek reinstatement after the suspension), followed by double-secret probation. The test-taker who cheated has lost their livelihood. Since cheating is cheating, seems to me that the test-center (CPLS) should face the same punishment as the test-taker. At the very least, the manager/owner/test administrator of the test-center (CPLS) should also face a lifetime ban as well. I invite comments on this subject – pass them on along to Microsoft as well – let them know that “cheating is cheating” and that the test-centers (CPLS) and the test-taker should face the same punishment and not have Microsoft treat the test-centers (CPLS) more leniently than the test-taker. The Hot-Stove Rule of punishment should prevail here: Touching a Hot Stove invokes immediate, consistent and impersonal punishment.

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