Kelly Kathleen Ferguson

The Texas Project

Fiction from NER 33.4

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File:Pencil 357.jpgLora meets Derek at Measurement, Inc., a grading service for standardized tests. In a basement below the mall, tables of college graduates judge preteen thoughts on gun control and personal liberty. This job is considered better than temping. Should Smithtown build a park or a library? Support your argument with evidence. The Texas Project is a crucial assignment. The first batch of scores was contaminated; this is a retest. For five weeks 373 readers will assess 200,900 essays written by Texas ninth graders. The scores determine who moves up and who gets held back, the first sorting of the college bound from the cashiers. The topic: drunk driving.


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Kelly Kathleen Ferguson is the author of My Life as Laura: How I Searched for Laura Ingalls Wilder and Found Myself (Press 53, 2011). Her work has appeared in Mental Floss, Poets & Writers, Gettysburg Review, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and Witness, among other publications. She has an M.F.A. from the University of Montana, and is now at work on a Ph.D. in creative writing at Ohio University.