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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Why can't your child sit quietly and read in the Florida Standards Assessments testing room?



Florida parents continue to seek ways to work within the state's testing system while still not forcing their children to sit for the exams when they begin Feb. 29.

Land O'Lakes dad Frank Lovetere urged the Pasco County School Board on Tuesday to "issue a directive" to school leaders, telling them it's okay to inform children of the right to not answer questions on the Florida Standards Assessments.

"There is no requirement for students to answer any question on these tests. This information is not presented," Lovetere told the board. He suggested that some schools inappropriately tell familes that children might be held back or not allowed to take electives if they do not have scores from the "highly flawed tests."

District officials said they won't be offering such advice, although parents can tell their children whatever they want.

If the students in the testing room choose not to answer the questions, or simply finish early, anti-high stakes testing advocate John Mazzanovich wondered via email, why can't they sit quietly and read? "It is a local decision," he said.

That is true except in the writing test, according to the Florida Department of Education, The state's FSA administration handbook tells monitors:

"If permitted by your school assessment coordinator, you may allow students to read after they have finished a session AND their test materials (e.g., test tickets, test and answer books, reference sheets, work folders, worksheets) have been collected. While still in the testing room, students are not permitted to write or to use their computers or devices after they have finished a session, even after their test materials have been collected. Test materials may not be returned to students once the materials have been collected."

Many districts choose not to collect the test materials early, though. Their rationale has been that students should be given the full amount of time to consider their work. Pasco principals recently got this directive:

"Test administrators must allow the exact amount of time allotted for test sessions and must not collect paper-based test materials until the end of the test session. While some students may finish before the time allotted for testing ends, this policy is in place to provide a fair environment for students who require all or most of the allotted time and to avoid pressuring any student to finish early."

Parents can pull their children out of school during testing.

[Last modified: Wednesday, February 17, 2016 1:34pm]


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