Group raises concerns about Florida testing window overlap with Jewish holiday
It's become a ritual of its own: The Florida Department of Education announces a spring testing window, some organization asks for consideration because of religious holidays that fall within the scheduled dates.
Usually, Good Friday and Passover are the main sources of angst. This year is no different.
The Anti-Defamation League has contacted school districts, advising them that the April Florida Standards Assessments in language arts and math overlap with Passover. Additionally, the group noted, the ELA retakes in October conflict with Yom Kippur.
"Jews widely observe these major holidays. Observant Jews are not permitted to work or go to school on Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur. Furthermore, they are not permitted to work or go to school on the first two and last two days of Passover: April 11-12 and 17-18," ADL Florida regional director Hava Holzhauer wrote. "In light of the potential conflicts between these religious holidays and the administration of the FSA examination, we strongly request that your District take these conflicts into account and avoid scheduling test administration days on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the first two and last two days of Passover."
In the past, districts have made accommodations for students who observe the holidays during testing. The actual exams do not last the entire testing window, so there's room for flexibility, the Pinellas school district noted when this issue arose in 2014.
"Students who choose not to attend school on those days of excused absence will be able to take the assessments on a make-up date prior to the close of the testing window," the Pinellas School Board and administration wrote in a statement at the time. "The district respects the right of all students to observe the religion of their choice and makes every effort to support their religious observances."
School districts are in the process of adopting their 2016-17 testing calendars, so the request comes at the right time. The state is expected to release more specific details about testing requirements on Aug. 1, after which districts will solidify their plans.