High-school students are now trading Twitter RTs for points on final exams

Teenagers are forever gracing (cursing?) the Internet with their social media antics. But this time — welp! — their teachers are encouraging them.

Teachers at several high schools across the country have purportedly made pacts with their students, promising to cancel final exams or bump up exam grades if a tweet on the subject earned a certain number of shares. It’s sometimes unclear if teachers are actually willing participants in the pacts, or if unruly kids are just writing “agreements” on the chalkboard when they probably should be studying. In either case, such tweets have popped up all over: in an art class in Round Rock, Texas; during chem in Colorado; at an English class in Michigan.

The stunts have been thoroughly criticized by administrators at schools like Texas’ Round Rock High, who said exams would proceed as scheduled regardless of how viral they got. (That aligns with angry tweets from students at several schools, who complained their exams weren’t called off even after they hit the RT threshold.) That might not be the right attitude, though. I mean, in today’s economy, isn’t social media literacy a more marketable skill than, say … art?

Caitlin Dewey runs The Intersect blog, writing about digital and Internet culture. Before joining the Post, she was an associate online editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.
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Caitlin Dewey · May 12