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The Education of Sam Sanders

Publication Date: 2003-07-07

The following excerpt from The Education of Sam Sanders, a novella by T. S. Poetter, provides a look at schools in the very near future. Sam Sanders, an eighth grader who desperately wants to read books in school, encounters school personnel who have been socialized into a system that fully embraces the tyranny and control of high stakes and standardized testing.

The reader cheers for the one student who breaks the mold and takes a stand.

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Chapter 6--The Test Awaits

Mr. Jones confiscated Sam's books immediately; books weren't used in school anymore. Books made too much clutter and students always forgot them or just left them in their lockers or at home on purpose. But that happened way back when teachers and students used books in class. Now students could find everything they needed for school on the computer. The state gave each child in school access to the state database, with all the necessary reading materials and drill worksheets and homework assignments. The database has everything a student needs to do well in school and on the tests. The schools made every effort to streamline students' work so they wouldn't be distracted from the information they needed to learn in order to score well on the tests. Sam Sanders, and his books, had become a distraction. . . .

Dr. Dormont sat down behind her desk, and folded her hands in front of her, took a deep breath, and started her speech, "Sam, let me get right to the point. We need you to take the eighth grade test today. If we average scores of 86 for the reading and 77 for the math, we get an extra $10 million for building improvement and teacher saleries from the state. That's just for the practice test. The big bonuses come with the end of year test in early June. We need your scores, Sam. . . ."

Sam replied, "Dr. Dormont, I'm not taking the test today. I hate those tests. I hate the boring stories, the questions, I hate how long it takek to read everything for one little detail that you have to choose out of a lineup of answers. I'd really rather be reading on my own, or writing something for that matter."

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