February 5, 2015

On Friday of last week our teacher informed us that we were going to be tested by the state. This is some kind of new competency test, and we are the first and only students out of all other prisons in the state to be given this test, we are the lab rats if you will. My teacher wasn’t even aware of this testing, he told us as soon as he found out. Our teacher was actually more stressed out and concerned about the test than we were, he said that the test had no bearing on our grade and it wouldn’t have any effect on our certification test at the end of the year. However, he did say that the test was more or less to find out how much we’ve learned from what we’ve been taught so far in class, which of course is why our teacher was nervous, he was unprepared for such a new part of his course to be sprung on him without warning, worried that our bad test grades will reflect his ability to teach us. Regardless of having no warning, I’m always ready for a test on horticulture and excited to take one. I study five days a week, going over notes and flash cards with ease, insuring my success with passing the four separate certification tests at the end of the year. The only other class of students taking this new test in the state of Ohio is also here at Madison, it’s the A.O.T. (Administrative Office Technology) class next
door to us, and they will be taking a similar test that covers their field of learning. This was a two day long test, both morning and afternoon. We had a total of twelve modules, with anywhere from 50-100 questions per module. I was the very last person to finish taking the test, having to remain in the classroom for nearly one hour longer than the rest of my classmates. I began to wonder why it was taking me so much longer, were they smarter than me?, did they even try to pass the tests?, or am I just slower than everybody else from all the drugs I’ve used over the years?… And then I realized and said to myself that none of that matters, what matters was the fact that I was giving this test every ounce of my brain and the knowledge I’ve retained over the last seven months of horticulture class. I’ve always got my hand up, excited to answer questions because I know them; the other classmates are always asking me for the answers because they know I take this seriously. At the end of each test, the computer would tell me whether or not I passed, I passed eleven out of the twelve modules, which was an amazing feeling for me. Our teacher warned us that many of the modules would be impossible for us to pass because he hadn’t yet covered every subject and also there were subjects that we were tested on that aren’t even a part of our curriculum. The single test that I didn’t pass was like reading gibberish. The topic of the test was combustible engines, there was questions about diesel engines, how to fix them, what to look for when you hear a certain noise, what it means when the oil or the hydraulic fluid looks milky or smells sweet. This of course is not a part of my education as a horticulturalist, nor is it something I have any life experience in, but I still gave it my best, trying to make educated guesses along the way. At the end of the day, I feel great about my accomplishments with this testing, and my teacher even commended me for doing so well, now that’s a damn good feeling, a sure sign of moving forward in life and education, the hard work for my future continues to pay off and is reflected in many aspects of my day to day life in prison. Pushing forward.

Steven Dybvad


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