The Opinion of the Smoke Signal Editorial Board
The Nintendo Switch isn’t the only system MSJ students have been known to game. Despite the best efforts of the administration and teachers, students constantly devise new ways to gain an unfair advantage in their classes. The most common method: call in faking sick.
At MSJ, skipping the full school day or simply certain class periods, a practice colloquially termed as “dipping,” has become a glaringly prevalent problem over the past few years. By pretending to be sick and missing classes, students buy time to complete projects and homework, or worse, systematically avoid taking tests and quizzes to later receive information from peers who showed up to take them. When students “plug,” or give their friends test questions, they expect their friends to do the same for them in other classes. Hence, the widespread nature of this scheme creates a mutualistic symbiosis, where students plug and get plugged.
When students miss tests, teachers must choose between giving make up tests with the same questions or creating entirely new tests for the handful of absent students. In the first scenario, students who take the makeup gain a considerable advantage. Students who dipped could simply memorize the answers before the makeup test instead of genuinely learning the course material. This practice, relying on classmates to provide details of the test, is blatant academic dishonesty. Moreover, students that make the choice to plug face the additional consequence of violating the honor policy that all students sign.
In response to this rampant exploitation, teachers have tried to disincentivize students from dipping test days by creating more difficult makeup tests. Most commonly seen in Math and Science classes, teachers often publicly declare to have had made the makeup test harder as a warning to students to not miss the test. However, all students bear the brunt of these punitive policies, especially those who happen to miss a test because they are genuinely sick. Faced with the prospect of a far more difficult makeup test, students often put their own health at risk by coming to school to take tests even when severely ill. Students who abuse the attendance system and parents who enable them have forced teachers to adopt strict punishments that harm all students.
In the long run, those who use skipping school as an academic crutch justify any means to the end result of a higher GPA and only harm themselves. While it can certainly be stressful or overwhelming to study for multiple tests on the same day, relying on conveniently-timed absences prevents students from ever truly learning the curriculum or developing proper time management skills. These cop-outs ultimately leave students unprepared for life beyond high school. In college and other professional environments, skipping to avoid responsibilities results in strict consequences: immediate zeroes on tests or even termination from your job. While dipping might seem like a simple solution to your next math test, it is a short-sighted band-aid that ultimately impedes your learning and harms your peers.
Graphic by Graphics Editor Lucia Li