Jeff and Tad are cancer survivors, but the medication used to treat Jeff's leukemia has effected his brain. The state of New Jersey decided that anyone who cannot pass the English and math versions of the state test would be retained in the 8th (or 4th or 11th) grade. Jeff is terrified because he doesn't want to be held back a year due to something he can't help. So Jeff and Tad make a deal that will ensure that Jeff passes the state test and won't leave Tad alone in high school.
New Mexico has passed (last I heard) a law stating that if students dont' pass the 11th grade proficiency test, they can't graduate. Similar situation. Jeff's mom makes an important point about the correlation between test scores and grades - just because someone has a good grade in a class doesn't mean that students will score proficient on a standardized test. Did I mention that the New Mexico test is untimed? And it's supposed to be standardized? Anyone else see the problem?