Number 2 Pencil Needed

It is FCAT (Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test) testing time, seemingly the most harrowing event of the year in public schools in the state of Florida. For those of you who have no idea what an FCAT is, think standardized testing for grades 3 through 11. This test is used to measure the child’s progress and ability to meet the Sunshine State Standards benchmarks. My oldest is 8 and is schooled at home. This is not your traditional homeschooling; this is actually a virtual public school. In a virtual public school the child is part of the public school system, but is taught at home. As a virtual public school student he is required to take the FCAT beginning in 3rd grade. Tuesday was his first day of the three sections of his test. I am unsure who was more stressed out about this, me or my son. As I sat in the school office waiting for my son to complete his test, I witnessed the gravity of the situation for the other students as well as the faculty and the test administrators. The front office was a flurry of activity rife with nervousness.  I not only heard about several ‘sick’ children in the various classrooms, but I also heard the mounting calls to the janitor for clean up. As I sat there I found myself anticipating the next call being about my son. It is common knowledge that this is a very important test and many of the students stress out about it. The pressure to complete this test successfully can really put the students in a frenzy and the results can also affect the school’s funding. Another thing I noticed is the number of late arrivals. The students are not permitted to enter the classroom once testing begins. I feel as though many of these students were either truly physically ill or possibly delaying the inevitable. Whatever the case may be, my son remained in the classroom unfazed by all of the unfamiliar stimuli surrounding him.  As always, my son never ceases to amaze me.

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