Only about one-quarter of U.S. high school seniors performed solidly in math exams and just about four of 10 were scored at proficient in reading, according to the nation's report card released this week. The assessment, based on national tests, found the students' results to be unacceptable stagnation.
But there is something very vibrant going on in the social media universe, where a growing number of students are making deals with their teachers to skip their final exam if they can generate a number of retweets on Twitter.
If you have been in hibernation for the past several years and don't know what a retweet is--it's an important way of distributing information, commentary and advertising on Twitter. A person simply hits the retweet button and the data zoom off to all of the person's followers, theoretically creating a never-ending chain of beings linked by the same information.
Andrew Muennink, a senior at Round Rock High School -- near the hyper-cool and technologically savvy area around Austin, Texas -- negotiated a deal with his teacher, Cindy House. If he could get 15,000 retweets of the picture of the pair of them, the class would not have to take a final exam in art class. As of Friday morning, they were approaching 7,000 retweets, which for those who are math-challenged is slightly less than halfway to success.
“I try my best and the final is supposed to be so hard, so I was like, 'I have a lot of followers on Twitter,'“ he told
Muennink said his first offer to House was 5,000 retweets, however they ultimately settled on 15,000.
While many people would not be upset to learn that one enterprising student had figured out a way to get out of a final exam, the growing use of retweet swaps to avoid educational rigor does seem to be extending beyond Round Rock High School.
The agreement, which was reached on Wednesday, has spawned a host of imitators using their own pictures of needy students seeking a retweet to avoid a test. A high school student in Ohio has launched a campaign to avoid an exam in a course on government, but will need 250,000 retweets. It would be nice to think that the higher number is somehow tied to the subject matter, but given how little Washington has been able to get done, there is probably no relationship.
A trigonometry class in Minnesota is seeking 50,000 retweets, which given the national test scores in math is probably a bargain.
Muennink told ABC that he fully endorses the other schools' efforts.
"I think [other schools] should [do this] because it's really cool how Twitter can be an influence," he said.
Of course, he has yet to reach his goal of skipping the art exam. But if he does make it?