However, and with Great Sincerity...

Ivan Marquez

E-mail received by CICC Office Dated

10/18/2001—FWD: FWD: FWD: URGENT!!!!!!


To Whom It May Concern:

     This is Dick Ellerbe writing on behalf of Colesqua High School with regard to the proctor booklets that were distributed to our district office this past week. The content of the booklets does not seem aligned to the State Standardized Test and deviates wildly in terms of content and decency. There must have been a massive oversight on your end and—believe you me—I will walk through hell’s boiler room to ensure that the heads of high-ranking officers in your department are rolling down central office halls or placed atop pikes along I-57 for this unnecessary emergency. 

     Since no one in your office can be bothered to proofread what you send out, attached are some of the excerpts (the ones that made some semblance of coherent thought).

     Also, my suggestion to amend the situation would be a new set of appropriate booklets sent first class to our district office before test day and for you all to kiss my ass. A picture of which has been faxed to your office. 

     I am awaiting the booklets.



Dr. Dick Ellerbe Ph.Ed

Assistant Principal

Colesqua High-School

- .- -.- . / -- -.-- / .... .- -. -.. .-.-.- / - .... .. ... / .. ... / --- ..- .-. / -... . --. .. -. -. .. -. --.


Ahead of Testing Day or Hwaet! We Gardena       in geardagum…. (Virgil)

               You will be proctoring the Practice Standard Aptitude Exam. This test booklet was provided to you by the state of Illinois in accordance with the standards and practices set forth by the Committee of Central Illinois Colleges (a regional branch of the College Board). All directions have been approved by a Board-Certified Member* in accordance with Illinois State and Federal law.

               Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with the glossary located on page 64 of your Proctor Booklet. It is important that you understand the terms used throughout the testing booklet before testing day. 

               This is your assigned guide for administering the PSAE. Take a moment to read and remember your guide’s name, as it will be imperative on test day. The Guide’s name is located in the parentheses of this section’s title. 


*It should be stated that the SAE technical writer’s manual forbids writers from using footnotes to distribute any information as it may be confusing for proctors during testing day. This quote can be found in the lone footnote of the manual in section SS. 342.64*. Technical writers are the freaks of the writing world as we are the few whose job entails removing all voice from our writing; we need only disseminate information as simply and clearly as possible. This brought both awe and suspicion to technical writers as we could not discern whether the footnote was meant to create confusion-- thus providing a valuable lesson through example-- or was an act of defiance. The debate still continues in Tech Writing circles, with practitioners falling into the two previously mentioned camps. I am of the latter, choosing to paint and inscribe my name on the bars that block my view. 

            Although you have already spent the two weeks preparing for the test, which included countless formal and informal conversations as well as two PLP’s that could have been condensed to an e-mail, please take a moment to forget them, as all that you will need is between these covers. Please go over your test day scripts so that you may clarify any questions you may have with your test day administrative team. 

.-- . / .- .-. . / .- .-.. .-.. / .--- ..- ... - / .-- .- -.-- .-- .- .-. -.. / -.-. --- -- .--. .- ... ... . ... / .-- .. - .... / -. --- / - .-. ..- . / -. --- .-. - ....

On Test Day, Proctors will need to be:

  • Well versed in the exam and all aspects of its administration. It is vital that all proctors know what to expect on test day.

  • Assigned a classroom to proctor as well as a sheet of student names listed in alphabetical order. Note: though your roster is in alphabetical order, students should be seated randomly throughout the room. A seating chart has been provided to you by the CIC. 

  • Gallant (Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with the C.I.C definition located on page 64 of your proctor booklet). 

  • Well stocked with #2 pencils. 


Class Roster and Student Protocol or the White Whale

            Take a moment to familiarize yourself with your class roster. Make sure that you are proctoring a class that you do not teach. For example, a Junior level teacher should not proctor a Junior level test as there may be a conflict of interest. Since tests scores weigh heavily on the employment decisions made for the following school year, it is important that students know and understand the importance of the exam and that the importance of this exam has been communicated to them by others prior to test day.

            Any irregularities should be recorded in the irregularity report found in the back of the proctor booklet.

            Boredom is to be expected and should be recorded in your irregularity report. Students may look around and out of windows, wishing to be anywhere else except within that room. Wishing to be anywhere else. Wishing to be anyone else. Remind students to face forward as the PSAE testing room is no place for existential ennui*. 

            Ensure that twins are actually twins and not doppelgangers*. If you are not sure, and there is no way to tell, seat them far apart from one another and away from the other’s sight, as one will assume the identity of the other. 

            Students should be well aware that the results of this test will haunt them as the specter of Marx haunts Europe—a decision made in their past will inform their every decision moving forward. Some may feel that upon graduation they have moved on from the test and that the results no longer reflect their value or spotty character.


*Apathy and irony are the parents of adolescent melancholy and they will take students by each hand and walk them through life. Life no longer becomes something that happens to you, but around you; An audience to the world’s stage, being shut out of all that light.

*One may recall “the doubles” incident that took place in Madison, Wisconsin during the 1981 testing season where, after hours of rigorous testing that led to multiple pencils broken or worked to the eraser’s nub, saw the district receive multiple phone calls of parents claiming that their children didn’t “appear the same”. Not that they looked different, but that there was a certain hollowness to them, a slight difference that could be felt but not seen, heard within the inflection of their voices, but difficult to describe. The Madison district of course promised that the people occupying their homes were, in fact, their students and that they had just undergone extreme stress from testing, reassuring them not to worry and that their child would return to normal in “no time at all” (though one administrator used the term “jiffy’’, which he felt was inappropriate).The origin of these doubles is split between two camps. The first being the high population of Germans within your region. It is a well recorded fact that a population can bring their specters with them—carried within the collective their subconscious and sprung forth in times of great distress. The second is that the stress of the SAE causes a split within the student, IE the energy from within the student manifests itself outside the student, thus forcing the student to literally confront themselves. It is a battle seldom won, for who can honestly face themselves?

            They are sorely mistaken. 

            Students may ask to use the restroom. Do not let them go unless it is an emergency. If the student leaves, make sure that you remove the test from their desk and keep it near you and away from the prying, weasely eyes of test takers. Students become more daring when their backs are against the wall and even the most mild-mannered student will bend or break regulation to keep the specter of failure at bay—or at arm’s length. Though students are allowed to use the restroom, they are not allowed to do so to vomit. Vomiting is a natural occurrence to a body under extreme amounts of stress and does not constitute any emergency, medical or otherwise. Please place a small paper bag at the foot of each students’ desk. 

            Daydreaming should be documented in your irregularity report. There are no dreams within the testing rooms as dreams connote Hope (Please refer to the C.I.C definition located on page 64 of your proctor booklet). The test is meant for students to confront their limitations, to push them to the metaphorical edge by the nape of the neck, forcing them to look at what lies beneath them should they fail: a great falling with no safety net or communal hand to save them. It is not uncommon for students to hallucinate that the entire class has vanished and that they are the only ones left in the room or for the room to change dimensions anytime they look up to check their time. Though the test is taken with others, it is a confirmation of the solipsist’s delusion. 

            Remind students that they are alone*. 

            Also, remind students calmly, however with great sincerity, that they will require a #2 pencil. 

. .-.. .. / . .-.. .. / .-.. .- -- .- / ... .- -... .- -.-. .... - .... .- -. .. ..--..

            On Test Day

            Students should know the importance of this exam. The importance should have been stressed in the weeks leading up to test day. If the student does not take the test seriously, there is something wrong with that student’s Moral Compass (Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with the C.I.C definition located on page 64 of your proctor booklet). Students who choose not to take the test seriously should have their name and ID numbers recorded on the irregularity report and should be escorted from the testing room in hand-cuffs.

            Take a moment to look into the figurative and metaphoric Heart (The definition of which is inscribed on the walls of your own) of each Student. Ensure that they are (1) True (Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with the C.I.C definition located on page 64 of your proctor booklet) and (2) Pure (Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with the C.I.C definition located on page 64 of your proctor booklet). Continue if, and only if, all students 


*The SAE—the standardized test your students are preparing for—is the last great communal challenge these students will experience together: rows of heads slouched and slumped over bubble sheets, the unbearable stench of stress sweat exasperated by the broken public school A/C or the administrative decision to keep the system off until weather stabilizes, the cut of phlegm cleared and collected in the jowls followed by a soft swallow as students try to concentrate, all while a silent fart prowls the aisles like the 10th plague. Students will wish to escape this not knowing what awaits them. What awaits them after the graduation caps have been removed and flung skyward, after hugs and promises to keep in touch have been exchanged, and bags either packed for college (which only prolongs adolescence) is the world. A world unfair in its ability to tear one down after allowing for great heights.  A world of impossible expectations, demanding more than one can give, providing only what one deserves. These post-secondary trials and tribulations are private hells. Look around. Some of your students will not make it to thirty. Some will be confined within cubicles and quietly wish they hadn’t. Proctor, take stock in this: though it pains us to be together, we cannot be alone. 

fit this description. If student(s) does not fit the description, please have your administrative team contact the College Board. 

-- . -- --- .-. -.-- / .. ... / .- / ... -. --- .-- / -.-. .-. ..- ... - . -.. / ..-. .. . .-.. -..

            Students should be seated in their assigned seats. Tell students that they will be tested on the mastery of the State Standards in compliance with the state of Illinois; the Central Illinois College Board; and the National and Federal Board of Education.


The test will be broken into four sections and timed accordingly.

            Writing (55 minutes)

            Mathematics (40 minutes)

            Science (45 minutes)

            Reading (55 minutes)


            Students will be asked to write a personal anecdote about the worst day of their life. Student responses will be read and pondered by the college board and will be graded on whether the student’s life is worth living. 



            Students will be asked to answer questions based on the trajectory of paper airplanes and rocks thrown from the top of the Sears tower. Students will be asked to identify the fall rate as well as the distance traveled given certain wind and air resistance. 


            Students will be asked a Y/N question on their belief of climate change. Their responses will be measured against their written responses to the reading portion of the test and the college board will make a decision on whether or not students are true reflections of the state. 


            For the reading portion of the exam, students will answer questions on the forced migration of Illinois Native-Americans to the western border of Kansas at the hands of the federal government led by General Steve Miller*. The reading will have students identify dependent and independent clauses and how the deployment of semi-colons, colons, and commas further strengthens the relationship between clauses and justifies the forced migration of a people across a country in the dead of winter. Students will be asked to reflect on the Gallantry of Gen. Miller and how his stoic courage helped clear the land for American settlers moving west in fulfillment of their god given right to the prairie lands. Students will also be asked of how Gen. Miller is the embodiment of Illinois and Mid-Western Values*.


* Produced by the state and completely centered around the Gen. Miller, the story does not cover the much more harrowing journey of a family of three who saw the father executed just outside of the town center by Gen. Miller himself prior to the march. The mother, who had left much of the decision making up to the family patriarch, now needed to defend the life of herself and her very young daughter. Who marched through the central Illinois cold, their only wish to stop walking while whispering stories that are now long forgotten through chattering teeth, her words carried by chilled December breath beneath a gray sky that allowed no sun. Who would have their wish granted on December 27th as the two lay clasped and covered by snow, left behind by Gen. Miller, never to have a blot of ink spilled in their name. 

* The extent of the violence sanctioned by the state is veiled by language and framed within the margin of the page. It’s the state’s confession laid bare before apathetic eyes that hallucinate and dart between page and clock. A confession of violence in the name of manifest destiny is still a confession of violence and the state litters the test with these pedantic whispers. The key is awareness, proctor. What is needed is not ironic detachment, but true unspoken courage. The courage to rise in the face of impossible expectations and be cut down, day in and day out, only to rise and return again, like living revenants, not because life is meaningless, but in spite of it. 



Now say calmly, however with great sincerity…


“Open your testing booklet to page six. Do not move ahead of this section or your test will be void. You will have 55 minutes to complete the Reading portion of the exam. Your time starts now. Good luck.”

Ivan Marquez is an emerging writer from Illinois. He has been published by Rumble Fish Quarterly.