I cheated in High School. It was the norm. That's not justification, but it's true. In every tier, from standard classes to the advanced, cheating was the norm. Not everyone cheated of course, but a lot of people did. By my own estimations I'd say only 1% of students make it through graduation without ever cheating, not once.
We would cheat on homework, on tests, and classwork. Less-so on papers where plagiarism of course wasn't tolerated and harder to get away with. In one elaborate case my friend was one more failing test grade away from failing the class for the year and having to take it again. His classroom was set up in rows facing the front. The teacher handed out the test by giving a stack of 5 or so to each student in the front row who would then take one and pass it back. My friend was in the back row with a compatriot directly in front of him. His compatriot kept two tests and my friend in the back raised his hand to say he didn't get one. The teacher dutifully obliged her nearly-failing student my friend began working on the test on his own. The two conspirators sat in a row all the way to left of the classroom, right next to the row of windows. When the teacher was distracted the student with the second test threw it out the window. Another of one my friends was waiting below and grabbed the falling papers. This friend, an ace in math who had already taken whatever class they were in, took the test to the bathroom and easily completed the problem set. At a prearranged time my friend in the class met my friend in the bathroom who passed along the completed test. Back in the classroom the two conspirators copied the answers in their own scrawl and got rid of the evidence. My friend successfully passed the course.
As far as creativity that's A+. I told this story first of all because it's a great story of cheating, but also to illustrate the massive amounts of cheating in high schools. When I got to college and began picking my own classes and shaping my own education I let the cheating melt into the past. I didn't want to cheat, I learned to want to learn and do well on my own merits. The problem in high schools though, is we aren't taught to learn for the sake of learning. We are taught for the tests and for the grades and for the highest SAT scores all to get into the best colleges. High school was a game because we saw it as a game. We could do just as well as the kids trying their very hardest without doing any work at all. We could skip classes and get high and still compete with them to get into the Ivy league schools. Tests, tests, tests, tests. That's all we learned in high school. The classes were shaped and organized by the test calendar. We would slack off, slack off, slack off, get the grade they wanted out of us, and continue to slack off.
The AP classes were the biggest jokes of all. You can't cheat on those. But the teachers don't even try to hide the fact that their entire curriculum is based on the test at the very end of the school year. After the test there is a month left before school ends. My senior year I was in 5 AP classes through which I did minimal work the whole way. After we took the test all 5 classes ended and the teachers didn't try to hide the mass of nothingness that followed the test. But AP classes aren't jokes because of that. They are jokes because they don't amount to anything. They bring schools credit with the state. They don't prepare us for college even though they are supposedly designed to be college level classes. They aren't, they are still high school tests. If they didn't teach to the test maybe they would be college level. A bit of a paradox.
The system needs an overhaul. I don't know how it should be done. All I know is The National Honor Society is filled with cheating students. The schools overlook this because they only care about the grades their students get which amounts to money. That's money the teachers don't get unless their students get the grades. Students are being overlooked. Can we please fix this?