There's no way to study for "The T.E.S.T.T". Teachers have told their students that numerous times. They've prepared them for it, made them take countless prep tests. The whole school curriculum is based on the materials needed to pass "The T.E.S.T.T", not about what students really need to learn and study to make them successful for life. But how many people noticed that? Too few.
The first child entered the test taking room and nervously sat down, firmly grasping an old number two pencil prickled with bite marks near the eraser end. Its squishy grip became moist with the student's sweat from his hot palms. He jittered and squirmed in his seat as more children entered the room, and eventually the supervising teacher. The teacher trekked to the from of the class carrying a heavy-looking cardboard box, which she slammed onto a desk, causing the boy and a few other students to jump out of their seats. The boy stared at the large, intimidating box, containing "The T.E.S.T.T" that would decide the rest of his life.
With an ugly, artificial smile, the teacher hissed, "Let's begin." She sounded awfully bored as she read the directions off of a booklet the Board of Ed. forced every teacher to read. "I will now hand out a test booklet to each student. Make sure to check the I.D number, to tell if the test booklet belongs to you." She began to slowly pass out the packets, placing them down slowly on each student's desk. The boy checked his I.D number. No names were written on tests or homework anymore. Just numbers. Students were just numbers to these scorers. How revolting, thought the boy.
The student slid his falling glasses back onto his face as he fumbled to open the test packet he was given. His nerves kicked in as worried thoughts flooded into his mind. No, I can do this! He reassured. I can pass "The T.E.S.T.T."! All of the students finished the practice problems quickly. That was probably the easiest part of "The T.E.S.T.T" After all the students had finished, the teacher went over the answers and how to grid them in. Finally, it was time to start.
"Good luck," the teacher snarled. "You have 2 hours to complete the math and science portions." The boy gulped as he whipped out his scientific calculator. His heart raced, for he felt un-confident in his math abilities and incapability to recall information as quickly and efficient as most other students. He never did well on tests, even though he was a good student who worked hard and always tried to do his best. Trying would not help him today. He had to do his best.
Clock is ticking. The boy scribbled in the packet, trying to contain his nerves and focus. Tests gave him anxiety, placed fear in his heart. Will I pass? The first few problems were relatively easy… Though they gradually got harder. He had to skip a few of the last ones. Now for science. This would be easier. It's only multiple choice. With only about… 30 minutes to finish it… Pressure began to constrict the boy as he rushed to finish the science. So many questions, so little, precious time left.
3…2…1… "Time's up. Close your test booklet now," demanded the teacher. Everyone promptly obeyed. Stupid, stupid, STUPID! The boy repeated in his cowering mind. Timed tests were the worst. He couldn't double-check. His mind knew some of the answers were wrong. He hadn't paced himself. He ran out of time.
The teacher handed out tablets next, for the writing portion. A student questioned what had happened to the editing and revising portion. The teacher explained that the school systems felt no reason to continue the editing and revising portion since computers now did all of that work faster and more efficiently. They felt it was a useless skill, one that kids had no need to be tested on. Disappointed, the child sighed. It was the only thing he was good at.
The topic of the persuasive essay; something irrelevant. As usual, no one cared for this topic. "Should teens be able to drive sooner than 18?" Did it matter? Thought the boy. Cars drive themselves now. What difference would it make if the driver were a teen, kid, or adult? Reluctantly, the child picked a side, the easiest side, so he could b.s the whole essay with facts, brown-nosing, and article evidence provided on the tablet. That was easy.
The boy sped through the critical reading and response to lit portions. He definitely felt more confident about those than the math and science. After checking his answers numerous times, he waited; the clock's ticking echoed in his head, taunting him. Suddenly, he didn't feel so confident.
"Tablets off. Hand them to me." Finally, "The T.E.S.T.T" was over! Exclaimed the boy, overjoyed. Far from it. The joy soon faded. He almost forgot, the computer still had to score it. Each student waited in silence until their names were called up to get their scores and leave. The young teen twiddled his thumbs nervously. The thought of computers scoring his test frightened him. People could understand mathematical mistakes. People understood spelling errors computers may have not found. People made and understood opinions. Computers couldn't do any of these. There was only a "right" or "wrong" with computers. Computers knew no errors, especially in a test that based your score on only what one could recall academically. And that sickened him.
No, society never judged creative skills. Only math, science, and language mattered. One was only of use if they were considered "smart". The child knew he was no fool. The ideas he had may not have been good for academic standards, but one could not argue the opposite; they were indeed good ideas. But they would not matter if he did not pass "The T.E.S.T.T.". If he did not pass, he would not be eligible for a college, a job, a family. No, the world would not need him if he failed.
His name was announced. Courage left the boy's faint heart in a heartbeat. Insecurities and uncertainties flooded his thoughts. He received a tiny slip of paper from the teacher. A score. Fingering it carefully, he peaked at the numbers. It read, "1096". To pass, one needed "1100".
His spirit sank. My life is over…
"Didn't pass?" questioned the teacher. "Head over to the ." ? He thought. What could that mean? Failure room? Fucked room? Basically, that's what it felt like to every student sent there. The boy grabbed his pencil and calculator and left the room. He dragged his feet on the floor, moving as slow as possible next to a security guard that had come to fetch him and lead him to the room. They both remained silent. Something unsettling churned within the teen; he felt like a broken machine.
They reached the door, the sign " " looming over the boy condescendingly, as if it were mocking his failure. The guard unlocked the room with a special key and ordered him inside. The teen looked back at security with pleading eyes. He felt a burning desire to go back, but the guard motioned for him to continue walking.
"Sorry kid," said the guard lamely. The door slammed shut, creating a booming echo. Suddenly, the floor began moving in the dark black room. The boy pushed against the sides, but they did not budge. They were made of strong stone. He tried running back, but it was useless. He didn't move at all. The teen began to sweat as the temperature in the room began to increase. He looked around for a sign of light, or an exit, but noticed a faint orange glow ahead instead. A way out, perhaps?
The room began to get to sweltering hot temperatures. The orange light got brighter. A faint scent tinged the air. One slightly familiar to the boy…
Fire. . "Fire Room"…
Almost immediately, the boy saw the flames rise. He knew it was the end. He was going to be burned alive. Angrily, he screamed. He cried. His voice was not heard. His last moments seemed to go on forever. He cursed the school system, the teachers, the Board of Ed. He cursed everything that had to do with "The T.E.S.T.T.". Because one test should not determine the future.