UMass PhD candidate, Darius Taylor, tackles stakeholders' voices in high stakes testing on stage in his play, Wrong Answer. Wrong Answer is an interactive, multiform theatrical experience that follows two lead characters as they navigate performance testing that's steeped in a tradition of strong anti-black bias, tests that still don't reflect individuals holistically. Its an art-based community intervention that highlights the challenges with testing in the black and brown communities who all too often fall victim to detrimental outcomes for being at the lower end of the educational achievement gap.
Wrong Answer is a plea for equity and justice in a time when there is little. Through spoken word, singing, video, and workshopping, it's a play that challenges audiences to ask who standards are based on and if standardization is the right way to go.
Audiences enter UMass's Africana House and are led down a dark stair case as the cast sings slave spirituals that once echoed through plantations.
Once down the stairs, viewers have to pass through a metal detector where they are stopped at random. After entering, they take their seats while a teacher tells them to sit down and take a test on implicit bias, before playing a film on the history of testing.
With the loud ring of a school bell, the scene immediately ends, immersing the audience instantly into the start of the play.
Main characters, Mikey and Nay, are both high schoolers prepping for the SATs. After walking out on the exam, Mikey confides in his principle that the test questions feel irrelevant and that even the teacher he's been with all year sounds scripted and robotic. He doesn't understand how an exam that's so sterile and standardized can capture all of him.
That look like my 11th grade Teacher Ms. E But somethin don’t seem to line up for me somethin is different Maybe it could be that she hella scripted “What’s that you readin?” “What’s this, whatchu sayin?” Ms. E is this another game we playin?
Meanwhile, Nay has spent her life studying for it, playing a game that was rigged against her in an attempt to beat the system.
We fought to integrate into THEIR systems Because when we tried to thrive on our own they shut it down! But they still want to keep us in chains.