Testing The Test

25 01 2007

A few days ago, I tested the test. Yes, I did. I know it sounds strange, but true. It all happened on an innocent end-of-the-day, when I was preparing to do my go-out-of-the-side-door procedure. I grabbed my backpack and sat down and waited for a announcement that the teacher was signaling for us to listen too.

She said, “Tomorrow, we will do the field test for the TAKS test that the state is developing. We will do nothing— I repeat, nothing— else but this field test tomorrow. You will not— you will not— be graded on it, but do your best on this.”

She was repeating a lot of things, but the message was clear: one of those whole-day tests.

So the next day I grabbed my backpack and headed for the classroom. When we got there, there was nothing on the chalkboard except for two little words. I’m sure you can guess them.

Field Test.

I felt a sudden surge of distaste over me. Even though I knew it was wrong, I just couldn’t help thinking (quite wrongly, of course) that the state was using us like laboratory rats inside little cages, testing all the toxic (and so-called non-toxic) medicines, and stuff.

I sat down and wrote those two words down in my planner.

Field Test.

I put my planner away. The two little words still ringed inside my head.

Field Test.

The teacher erased those two little words, apparently afraid we might cheat on a question that had Field Test in it. I didn’t think so.

The teacher said, “You are doing the TAKS field test, derived by the Texas Education Association. This test helps TEA develop the actual TAKS test— now guys, I’m reading this off a paper; it’s required, so hang in there— in April.” No wonder.

The teacher finally finished the speech, and she began to pass out papers. I grabbed one and took out a pencil. I was just beginning to start when the teacher gave me a pencil. She said, “You have to use these pencils, since not all pencils are 2B.”

Which school pencil is not 2B? Still, I took it and began to work. Working, and working, and working on the test. I began to get a little hungry. I suddenly remembered the bag of animal crackers that I had.

I smiled. One of those little touches that make a boring old Field Test a little more fun than it actually was. Grinning, I opened my bag and took out a few. Delicious. Munch, munch. A few other classmates saw me and took out their own.

I did a few more pages. I began to few hungry again, so I opened my bag and took out a few more. Scrumptious.

Now it was lunch time. Before we left, our school counselor came in with a small cart. There were tests piled on top. The cart had a big paper taped on it. The paper read, “TAKS-Mobile”.

Funny… TAKS-Mobile. Like a car. I saw the teacher fill out a form. She checked the “Some of my students are not finished. I will not be in the room to watch over the tests” box.

She took the form and the tests and put them on a TAKS-Mobile. Then our counselor pushed it away.

Lunchtime came, and we ate lunch. When we were done, we silently filed out back into the classrooms. By this time, I had already finished all my crackers. So I just sat there and read.

It was near the end of the day. Time for some rewards. The teacher told us we were going to have extra recess if we could! Extra Recess!

It would have been great if not for the fact that it was raining outside. We could not go outside today. Oh, well. Maybe next time. But the teacher said it, and if she didn’t live up to her word, I was sure a few students would tackle her and ask when the extra time would be.

Then the teacher let us play games. So that was what we did for the next half-hour.

A test is fun at the beginning, the end… and sometimes— sometimes— the duration.

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