William Sleator's TEST is certain to resonate with students, teachers, and administrators who have had their fill of NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND. In an indeterminate future, all students in the country take the XCAS in order to move on from grade to grade and, ultimately, to graduate and get a job. Those who fail are sent to detention centers and sometimes endure worse fates. Ann is worried about passing her XCAS in English. The readings seem difficult and boring. She practices because her fate rests with her ability to do well on the test. She is puzzled, though, that a student from Thailand named Lep seems to be doing well suddenly on the test. The mystery deepens as Ann is threatened by a stranger on a motorcycle. Lep seems to know this man but is reluctant to talk to Ann at all. Eventually, Ann learns of the conspiracy on the part of the company behind the testing, one with strong ties to the government.
I guess what makes this a scary read is that it strikes so close to the truth, at least here in Texas where kids have already been benchmarked and labeled and drilled with school only a month into the year. The pressure for AYP and pass rates has make real teaching take a back seat in too many classrooms. It is all about the test. Of course there are those who still teach and get results on the test, but in too many places, there is no opportunity to swim upstream and defy the scripted curricula that will cause this next generation to perhaps know more, read less, and think less critically. Uh-oh, it started as a book posting and ended as a political posting. I am out of control!