Putting Education Reform To The Test

Opting Out Of FCAT Can Have Consequences

Monday we told you about activists who are educating parents about what their options are when it comes to FCAT exams.

While state law doesn’t allow parents to withhold their children from the exam, the law does outline alternatives to required tests.

But opting out might still come with some consequences. A parent forwarded us a letter sent home from school about an upcoming field trip:

A letter sent home warning parents their student may not be able to attend a field trip if they miss the FCAT.

Courtesy of an anonymous source

A letter sent home warning parents their student may not be able to attend a field trip if they miss the FCAT.

The message may not say “Take the FCAT or else!” but that’s how this parent interpreted the note.

It’s one reason parents will push lawmakers to allow opting out of the new Common Core-tied exam which begins in 2015. Advocates are also pushing to make it easier for students with disabilities to be exempted from the test if there is a compelling medical reason.

A parent sent us a photo of this third grade assignment asking students what they were expecting in third grade. The parent said they had never spoken to the child about the FCAT.

Courtesy of an anonymous source

A parent sent us a photo of this third grade assignment asking students what they were expecting in third grade. The parent said they had never spoken to the child about the FCAT.

Parents are also worried that adult concerns about the exams — school grades, teacher evaluations and paychecks — have seeped into student awareness.

Another parent sent us this photo from the beginning of the school year. The assignment asked students to answer questions about what they were expecting in third grade.

When asked what they really wanted to learn about, the third grader answered “FCAT.”

And when asked what the student was nervous about, they answered “failing FCAT.”

The parent said they had never spoken to their child about the exam before seeing this assignment.


  • momforpubliced

    If a student has refused the test there are no make up days. One test refusal per subject. This is bullying.

  • momforpubliced

    Florida Department of Education Spokeswoman Cheryl Etters said by email to WFLA.com’s Candace Mccowan last week,
    “there are no state consequences for non-participation in state

  • GatorBonBC

    My understanding as a teacher is that if fieldtrips are offered during
    school hours, they must be equitable to all. So, unless a contract was
    signed prior to testing agreeing that the fieldtrip had requirements,
    this can not be enforced.

    • June Park

      Plus, testing in order to gain school funding and bonuses is illegal because students are guaranteed a FREE and appropriate education. This means forcing them to test in order for the school to be paid or funded is illegal. I quit because I do NOT want to be a party to such ridiculousness and I do not want to be named in a class action lawsuit which will eventually happen.

  • Jupiter Mom

    You must do more than refuse the test. You must break the seal or start the online test- careful not to answer any. Then refuse. Otherwise they can have the student do a make-up test date. As to the “consequence”- I can’t believe they have a fieldtrip scheduled during FCAT time. Our district has FCAT blackout dates. No field trips during that time. That is February through May. Ridiculous.

  • Just sayin…

    95% of students must test in order for a school to be an A. A school is penalized a letter grade if the benchmark is not met.

  • June Park

    FYI They CANNOT charge for field trips. Your payment is a donation and they cannot force you to pay it. That note in and of itself is a class action lawsuit waiting to happen.

    • nothowiwannalive

      That is the MOST ridiculous statement I have ever heard. OF COURSE they can charge for a field trip. It is an extracurricular activity to an AMUSEMENT PARK, not an educational trip to a museum or something. Class action lawsuit my ass. You and your class action BS is what’s wrong with this country. Get a freaking clue before you open your mouth and sound stupid

  • David P

    I read this as if your kid misses the exam, a makeup exam could be offered on the day of the field trip and your kid will have to miss the field trip to make up the exam. Not that if you opt out of the exam your kid can’t go.

    Maybe not the most artfully written note, but it doesn’t seem like a threat

  • Ladynina Labamba

    Our son exercised his First Amendment right to protest (walk away from) a “mandated” Ready to Work test and was physically accosted and illegally threatened with trespassing by the Principal. Our son was Early Admission (not attending classes at the H.S.). He stated politely that he was there to turn in a Senior Project form and would leave after that and not take the test. Because our son walked away and would not engage the Principal (who was following him, pretending the matter was urgent), the Principal physically confronted him.

    I talked to the Principal at the time of the incident and he told me that our son was violating the rules by not communicating; no mention of any other problem, as there was none. He wrote our son up for “insubordination”; not communicating. I told him that our son had not wanted to be harassed over not taking the test and wanted to leave right away. He said our son could not return to school until we had a face to face meeting.

    When our son explained what happened, I informed the Principal that we would agree to “conference” over the phone and that I didn’t want to be in the same room with him because he had shoved his forearm into a student’s chest for no valid reason. He threatened to arrest our son if he tried to return to school, without a face to face meeting.

    The entire situation is bullying and intimidation over…….a voluntary test. Apparently that law only applies to the kids. They have an informal policy that says they have legal authority to physically force compliance even when an “order” to comply is not lawful– they simply “fabricate” something to excuse their conduct. That is not a safe environment for students.

    I called DCF to report the incident. DCF protected the Principal instead of our student. The agent suggested that the Principal had a right to use “self defense” because our son was trying to walk around him and in doing so, took a step in his direction. Never mind that everyone agreed there was no aggressive behavior on the part of our son. They came up with their own law on the spot and decided that walking around (stepping to the right) of someone who is confronting you and trying to block your movement- justifies self-defense.

    They forgot to factor into their lie that there is a State requirement to file an incident report (which does not exist, because they came up with the lie after the fact). They agreed on their plan, destroyed the video and the Principal falsified his police affidavit. This is all proven. We are still waiting to see legal consequences for the Principal. The School Board ignored a public complaint asking them to investigate the falsified affidavit and the original incident. We also asked for an investigation of another coverup by the school (when they failed to report abuse and monitor a teacher, even though there were documented warnings about a relationship with a student in the personnel file). There was a highly publicized arrest of a teacher, who is now in prison; nothing about failure to report by the school. When they can get away with it, government organizations LIE to protect each other.
    “Florida Department of Education Spokeswoman Cheryl Etters said by email to WFLA.com’s Candace Mccowan last week,
    “there are no state consequences for non-participation in state
    When the DOE says there are no consequences, they mean none for their employees, if they can help it.

  • I have a problem with a student walking away from a prinicipal, an adult, a teacher, a policeman. No matter who it is they deserve a response. The student could have turned and told the principal I do not want to talk about the test and that you are leaving with your mom’s permission. I am assuming the student followed the schools formal sign out proceedure. We risk everyone’s safety when it is not followed. Teach your children to be respectful and these problems would go away. Be part of the solution, not the problem.

    • Ladynina Labamba

      Please correct me if I’m wrong, but the Principal is not
      a police officer and does not have law enforcement powers. The Principal has CLEAR
      procedures for employing physical intervention; the primary element being that
      the student is a danger to himself or others.
      Absent those, the man has no business laying a hand on a student-
      period. He is welcome to “write up” any reasonable consequence
      he desires.

      Now that we cleared that up. Can you tell why our son’s Constitutional
      rights don’t deserve to be respected? He had communicated with this Principal
      many times over the years, with no problem. He’s not an obstinate kid, he’s
      well-liked and polite. On the day that he walked away, our son had already communicated
      politely and clearly to the teacher. She excitedly flagged the Principal who
      then pursued him- to confront him. Someone who knows that you intend to leave
      (with a valid right to do so) and they intend to
      “delay/harass/confront” does not “deserve” a response.

      Furthermore, the Principal had done this kind of thing before; the reason: I
      (with parental authority) did not sign a non-mandatory Internet Agreement. In
      response, the Principal used a sensationalized/inflamed approach and caused a
      scene on the first day of school and put our son smack in the middle of
      his “urgent dilemma” (over an unsigned form). We no longer
      trusted his judgment. We notified the Principal (in a non-inflammatory email)
      that we felt uncomfortable with our son being confronted over what amounts to
      adult issues. We also informed him that if he had any subsequent non-emergency
      issues, we would arrange a meeting with him (over the telephone) to iron out
      his concerns.

      We have yet to hear an explanation about how the above offer to
      communicate (at a specified later date w/ all parties) is a
      “problem”. Why is that option so difficult? Because they believe (as
      you do) that they have “police” powers and total control, even over
      parents. NOT true and NOT acceptable.

      Saying “I have a problem” with it is not
      sufficient. There are two sides that have a problem here. Both deserve
      consideration. The Principal lost his temper and put his ego above the welfare
      of a student. He was aware that an open offer for reasonable communication with
      a parent was available at a later point in time. Since it’s a higher priority
      to not disrupt the education of students, the Principal also chose an option
      that flouts school policies. If he had simply gone back to his office and
      called a parent, our son would not have been put through the ordeal he

      You may have a “problem” with our preferences, but that does not give
      any employee of a school the right to “escalate” a non-issue and be
      physical/hostile about a non-disruptive personal and Constitutional choice of a

      In the absence
      of an emergency, we EXPECT a Principal to arrange a meeting with parents and (when
      preferred) provide a neutral setting to discuss the issue, not go WWF/Rambo on
      a student. It concerns us that people like you (and many educators) do not want
      to choose the clearly more reasonable and “better practice”; nor do
      they seem educated about student’s Constitutional rights, nor trained to
      observe them. In fact they follow
      informal policies of retaliation against students who lawfully assert those

  • SouthernBladeMan

    My granddaughter in Florida was told she couldn’t advance to the next grade unless she did well on FCAT. When the FCAT was previewed to the teachers, they got to work in pairs as it was nearly impossible for the teachers to do well on it by themselves. What a crock.

  • Yaiza

    My daughter opt out of the 5th grade FSA testing this year. Which it was a couple of weeks ago. I am trying to find information about opting out of the FCAT Science testing? Can someone please shead some light my way? Thanks!

  • Michael Potamousis

    I can only speak about the FCAT for math my daughter is a honors student with a B in math i watched and helped her work hard through last year to get a B
    We find out the she got a low score in the FCAT and now has to take intensive math class . My daughters and her teachers hard work last year was thrown away and now is being punished by not having an elective she loves for 1 lousy grade great message to my daughter . We will opt out of Math if she gets a B or A this time its just idiotic.

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