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Students Across the Country Are Brokering Deals to Get Out of Exams if They Get Enough Retweets

I never thought I’d live to see the day when Tweets could replace a student’s academic performance. But it’s actually becoming a popular trend. Teachers all over the United States are promising to cancel final exams if their students manage to get a sufficient number of retweets. I’m not sure the teachers always mean it, but it appears that the students are their deals quite seriously.

It all started with one opportunistic student – Andrew Muennink of Round Rock High School in Texas – who struck a sweet deal with his art teacher. Andrew is quite popular on Twitter, with over 2,300 followers. “I try my best and the final is supposed to be so hard, so I was like, ‘I have lots of followers on Twitter’”.

So he decided to leverage his vast following to his benefit. He approached his art teacher on 7 May and succeeded in striking a deal – if he could get 15,000 retweets by 12 p.m. on May 23rd, his class would be excused from taking the art final. His post spread quickly all over the internet, and he achieved his goal long before the deadline.

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As the news spread like wildfire, several students followed Andrew’s lead, begging their teachers to let them off finals in exchange for tweets. Dozens of high-schoolers across the nation are tweeting pictures of themselves shaking hands with their teachers, with the required number of tweets displayed in the background. The board behind them displays words like: ‘1 million retweets and no finals’. One class actually set their ambitions pretty high: ‘If our class Skypes or Facetimes with Ellen (Degeneres), we will not have a final’.

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The Twitterverse is currently filled with student-teacher negotiations. There doesn’t seem to be a set standard for these deals. Some teachers have agreed for as low as 10,000 tweets, while others have set the bar high at 1 million. High schooler Mackenzie Slagle posted a picture of herself with her teacher holding up a sign: ‘250,000 retweets NO FINAL’. She captioned it: “Please help I barely went to this class”.

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“Help out a brother man. This ain’t a joke,” wrote Arthur Read. His goal is relatively easier at 10,000 retweets. Twitter user @KingAndrew needs to get 100,000. Some teachers are getting quite creative: ‘1,000 retweets for an open notebook final or 5,000 for no final’. They’re offering students group finals, cancelled presentations and bonus points in exchange for tweets. The trend has even spread to college students. Matthew Francis, a Public Relations major, can skip his final exam if he gets 20,000 retweets. He said he was using this as a way to show the impact of viral marketing through social media.

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As funny as this all seems, there remains one pressing, unanswered question – how do retweets compensate for testing a student’s academic capabilities? Some say it is a display of superior negotiation skills, but I beg to differ. In a world where people tweet about even the most mundane things like what they had for breakfast, achieving a few hundred thousand tweets doesn’t sound implausible.

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Which is exactly why at least some of these bizarre tweeting deals aren’t being honored. The students of Round Rock High School and other schools in the US will be taking their exams, no matter what. According to Round Rock Independent School District Spokeswoman JoyLynn Occhiuzzi, “The law says that the teacher must give a grade on student mastery.” She said that the school’s principal had a chat with Andrew’s art teacher and that they “both maintained that it was a joke from the beginning.”

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Understandably, 18-year-old Andrew is quite upset with these developments. “A deal is a deal and you should see that through,” he said. “I was serious. I don’t want to take the final. I’m not very artistic and she grades us hard. She didn’t really indicate that it was a joke. She shook hands with me. She was laughing the whole time.” Andrew said that he’d probably show up for the exam, but still thinks it’s not right for them to go back on their deal.

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JoyLynn said that Andrew would not be facing any disciplinary action at school. “It is his first amendment right. It was his fifteen minutes of fame. He’s having fun.” About the art teacher, whom we haven’t heard from at all, JoyLynn said: “She is a popular teacher. She is a jokester. It is a lesson learned.”

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So it looks like poor Andrew and his class must take their finals after all. It’s not clear if the deals made by teachers from other schools were jokes as well. If they were joking, they’re going to have to deal with some pretty angry teenagers. I mean, no one wants to take finals after being promised they didn’t have to, right? That does sound quite brutal.

Photos: Twitter

Sources: CBC, USA Today

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