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[UPDATE] Can Students Opt Out of the FCAT?

By: Candace Sweat Email
By: Candace Sweat Email

UPDATE 4-12-2011

On Friday we told you about a mother not wanting her son to take the FCAT. On Monday, when her son Logan went to school, he ended up taking the test with the rest of his class.

Logan's mom,Christine Bittner, says she wanted her son to be able to attend Cobb Middle School, and just read at his desk and not take the test. But the district is required to put a test in front of every student, so Logan took the first day of the test. However, Bittner says she's not happy about her son taking the first day of the test, and says she will be keeping her son at home for the rest of the week.

Bittner says, "It does not benefit the student in any way to take the test, it doesn't penalize the student in any way to take the test. So it's pretty much they spend weeks, and weeks, and weeks studying and preparing for a test that doesn't matter."

Meanwhile, Cobb Middle School Principal Shelly Bell says, "We want to look at how well they performed on the sunshine state standards that were taught all year. So it's important that the students take the tests and that gives us a representation of how much they've learned over the school year."

When Christine found out that Logan's absence would not be penalized, hurt school funding, or deny him from advanced placement classes she decided to keep him at home while the testing continues.

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Christine Bittner has made up her mind. Come Monday, while most sixth graders at Cobb Middle School are busy solving math equations, her son Logan will be sitting at his desk occupying his time with something else .

"It accomplishes nothing. Standardized testing is an archaic travesty of what public education should be. It teaches students how to pass a test."

Bittner says she contacted her son's principal a couple of weeks ago to tell her that she does not want her son taking the FCAT.

After doing her own research, Bittner says she came to the conclusion that standardized testing adds no value to her son's educational experience.

"If your focus is just on taking the test and your school getting a certain percentage of passing scores, then it ceases to be about the children."

A spokesperson from Leon County Schools says they can't tell parent's what they should or should not do, but the law does tell educators what they must do.

"The test will be put in front of every one of our students on the test next week or during the makeup test. What happens after that moment is kind of just out there."

In other words, teachers must hand out the test, but they can't make a student complete it. Bittner says she's not concerned about the repercussions of her decision, because as far as she understands, there really are none.

Florida Statutes state that all students in Florida Public Schools must participate in standardized testing, but there's no exact wording to explain what would happen if a child refused to take the test.

The statute does, however, state that if a student does not meet specific levels of performance, he or she must be given additional assessments.


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