Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Cotee River, other schools ease pressure on FCAT days

NEW PORT RICHEY — Third-grader Kari Knight emerged from the Cotee River Elementary School media center Wednesday morning ready to get back into her routine.

Her third straight day of FCAT testing had run its course — 70 minutes of math, with a short break between sections — and Kari wanted to return to schoolwork. No, the kids don't test and then go home, and they don't blow off the remaining time with movies and fluff.

"It's not the end of the day yet," she said while waiting for her teacher to come escort her to art class. "It's a normal day."

At Cotee River, like most schools, educators seek to make FCAT testing days just like any other. The state might put heavy emphasis on the high-stakes exam, but that doesn't mean schools must add to the stress, they explained.

"It's just business as usual," said principal Lou Cerreta, who ended the past practice of FCAT pep rallies and other activities that heightened attention on the test. "There's enough anxiety and pressure already. I don't need to put any more pressure on them."

Instead, he sought to keep schedules as normal as possible. That included maintaining the instruction calendar. No losing two weeks of teaching and learning here, Cerreta said.

The only change required because of testing was having fifth-graders switch their "specials" time with kindergarten.

And once the testing ends each day, he said, instruction continues.

The third-graders, taking the exam for the first time, liked it that way. They headed straight to art, music and PE after the test. Then they practiced reading comprehension skills, ate lunch and did a science lab on force using balloon rockets.

"We don't just go home for the rest of the school year," third-grader Jack Malley said as he prepared for a game of music bingo in music class.

"We have to start getting ready for fourth grade," classmate Alek Kacpura said.

The children get some leeway. PE instructor Melody Johnson, for instance, gave her first class after the test some unstructured play time, rather than putting together a full lesson.

Some played with Hula Hoops. Others had a pickup kickball game. Yet others battled at tetherball.

"I know after testing all morning, I have extra energy to expend," said Johnson, who proctored the test. "That's why I give them free choice. But then the school day goes on."

Third-grader Jimmy Jackson said he liked having regular days "because you learn more."

At the same time, his classmates also enjoyed knowing that they weren't doing too much new material. Plus, there was the added incentive of no homework.

Still, they gave teacher Carrie Fallon-Johnson their undivided attention as they read together The Secret of Zoom, following along closely and making predictions of what might happen next. Fallon-Johnson said her class seemed unfazed by the FCAT and eager to get on with the lessons of the day.

That didn't mean the test was far from their minds, though.

"Some kids are curious. They might fail or succeed," said third-grader Madison Reid as she Hula Hooped. "I'm pretty good at reading. I think I got an A or a B. I want to find out."

But that will take time, the kids recognized. So they satisfied themselves with knowing that the test was almost over — just one more 70-minute math session.

"On Friday, it goes back to regular things," explained third-grader Brianna Collins.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at jsolochek@tampabay.com or (813) 909-4614 or on Twitter @jeffsolochek. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook.

Cotee River, other schools ease pressure on FCAT days 04/18/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 8:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trump sprinkles political attacks into Scout Jamboree speech

    GLEN JEAN, W.Va. — Ahead of President Donald Trump's appearance Monday at the National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, the troops were offered some advice on the gathering's official blog: Fully hydrate. Be "courteous" and "kind." And avoid the kind of divisive chants heard during the 2016 campaign such as "build …

    President Donald Trump addresses the Boy Scouts of America's 2017 National Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve in Glen Jean, W.Va., July 24, 2017. [New York Times]
  2. Trump, seething about attorney general, speculates about firing Sessions, sources say

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has spoken with advisers about firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as he continues to rage against Sessions' decision to recuse himself from all matters related to the Russia investigation.

  3. John McCain to return to Senate for health care vote

    WASHINGTON — The Senate plans to vote Tuesday to try to advance a sweeping rewrite of the nation's health-care laws with the last-minute arrival of Sen. John McCain — but tough talk from President Donald Trump won no new public support from skeptical GOP senators for the flagging effort that all but …

  4. Last orca calf born in captivity at a SeaWorld park dies

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — The last killer whale born in captivity under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program died Monday at the company's San Antonio, Texas, park, SeaWorld said.

    Thet orca Takara helps guide her newborn, Kyara, to the water's surface at SeaWorld San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas, in April. Kyara was the final killer whale born under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program. The Orlando-based company says 3-month-old Kyara died Monday. [Chris Gotshall/SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment via AP]
  5. Blake Snell steps up, but Rays lose to Orioles anyway (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Blake Snell stepped up when he had to Monday and delivered an impressive career-high seven-plus innings for the Rays. That it wasn't enough in what ended up a 5-0 loss to the Orioles that was their season-high fifth straight is symptomatic of the mess they are in right now.

    Tim Beckham stands hands on hips after being doubled off first.