2:30 to 5:30 soccer practice, 5:45 to 6:45 English essay, 6:50 to 7:20 eat dinner, 7:30 to 8:50 study for AP World quiz, 9 to 9:15 take a shower and 9:30 to 10:45 finish Spanish project. But what about the calculus exam? I’ll just skip.
Unfortunately, this is an approach to getting good grades that many students have resorted to. As a National Blue Ribbon School, CHS holds students to a high standard, challenging them to participate in various extra curricular activities and rigorous classes. For some, the way to avoid this challenge is skipping part or all of the day to avoid an exam or due date.
“There is an incredible amount of pressure on young people today,” Principal Joan Benz said. “However, we try to remind teachers to plan on scheduling homework and tests in such a way that there isn’t too much work around holidays or exams.”
A lighter work load around the holidays and exams may not be enough relief, however, because there is a substantial amount of the year where the pressure to study and produce good grades is constant. Work backs up, students become overwhelmed, and skipping classes becomes the only way to get by. Now, with the school year coming to an end, slacking off and leaving school early has reached its peak.
“Teachers have such high expectations,” said a female junior, who wished to remain anonymous because feared the repocautions of skipping. “It’s too much pressure and I just need a break. I skip two to three times a week and I [sometimes] forge my mom’s signature. [My mom] signs the slip but doesn’t read what it says.”
Students are easily able to manipulate the attendance system to skip school without any consequences, making it harder for CHS to control those students who skip classes.
“I feel very frustrated,” attendance secretary Harriet Feldman said. “At the end of the school year, [skipping] gets a lot worse. All of the grades are skipping, [but] mostly seniors and [many] juniors.”
While skipping can be linked to a student’s inability to effectively manage a heavy workload, it would be unfair to place the blame squarely on a school’s challenging requirements.
“There is not a lot the school can do to prevent skipping,” Benz said. “Much of it has to happen at home: having good study skills, being sure you get enough sleep and eating right.”
Discipline and focus at home, along with the ability to effectively manage time, are key strategies to overcoming the desire to skip a class when a student does not feel prepared for class.
For those students who choose to skip class, a note must be delivered to the attendance office with an excuse for the absence. According to Feldman, traffic, car problems and power outage are unexcused absences.
“I don’t think that skipping is that big of a deal,” sophomore Emily Scher said. “It is up to the students to keep track [of their grades] and it is not the obligation of the school to force them to show up every single day.”
However, not everyone feels comfortable with skiping a class. Some students respect the attendance policies or choose not to skip due to the loss of credit system at MCPS, which is currently being debated by the county.
“The question is [whether] attendance should be submitted with [students’] grades,” Benz said. “If a student is getting As, they should not have a loss of credit; it [should] depend on their grades.”
Despite the fact that skipping class ultimately leads to lost classroom instruction and the subsequent need to make up even more work, students will continue to skip when they feel they are trapped with no other options.