Parents, students circumvent FSA testing mandate

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Parents are responding to the first day of student testing by opting their children out of the controversial Florida Standards Assessment.

The exams are mandatory for all public schools and students, according to the state. But some parents said Florida education needs an overhaul.

“Not that standards aren’t important, not that curriculum aren’t important, but teaching to this test is a terrible way to educate our kids,” one parent said.

Lory Fayhee, a candidate running for Lee County School Board, said students are not obtaining life skills because useful topics are being neglected.

“They can’t balance a checkbook. They don’t have Home Ec anymore. They don’t have shop,” Fayhee said. “They’re not receiving an education that will help them succeed in life.”

Parents expressed concern about the FSA being too high-stakes.

“Our children need to learn, they do not need to have their future dependent on one test given on one day,” said.

Some students are sidestepping the mandate requiring participation by simply signing their names on test papers.The state statute does not say the exam must be completed so students who opt out are still abiding by the rule.

FSA was first introduced in 2015 as a replacement to the FCAT. But issuing the test to students did not come without challenges and criticism. Testing was postponed last year when students couldn’t log in to take the computerized test. There were also issues with computers crashing and delays.

That year 210 Lee County students and seven Collier County students opted out of the FSA. Parents said avoiding the exam this year has fewer consequences than taking it.

“If we’re not happy with things, we must have a voice. We have to stand up and say ‘This is not right, we’re not participating. I don’t want my kids being used as guinea pigs for this test,'” a parent said. “So, it’s just not something I don’t want on their record.”

Testing for the FSA will continue through the beginning of May. The reported scores will be used to measure the performance of students, teachers and schools.

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