Teachers have complained about the new Florida Standards Assessment, and have received support from parents, impacting the Legislature.
On Tuesday, the Hernando County School Board listened to a student who had taken the test — Brooksville Elementary School fourth-grader, Sydney Smoot.
Smoot was passionate, articulate, and her 2 minute speech addressed most of the anti-FSA talking points, supported by ad-libbed hand gestures. When she finished her speech, she got a standing ovation from the audience and the board.
9-year-old Smoot criticized standardized testing in general:
“This test defines me as a number,” she said, holding up her index finger. “One test defines me as either a failure or a success.”
She questioned the merit of the exam, which has been subjected to very little vetting: “Why am I being forced to take a test that hasn’t even been tested on students in Florida?”
One particular objection brought all the other ones to a head.
Before undertaking the reading section of the FSA last week, she had to sign a form that prohibited her from discussing its contents, even with her parents.
Jennifer Smoot, her mother, stated that her daughter had come home upset because she felt like the form kept her from sharing her testing anxieties with her parents.
“My daughter talks to me about everything,” said Jennifer. “She was very upset.”
District spokesman Eric Williams stated that the requirement to fill the form had been put into place several years ago to prevent students from revealing the tests’ contents to students who hadn’t taken it yet.
“It’s not meant to keep kids from talking to their parents, just from sharing specific questions,” he said.
Jennifer stated that she understood the reason, but, “I still find it very troubling.”
She stated that she encouraged her daughter to write down her feelings about the test, and that she edited some of it.
“She had some help from mom,” she said.
However, she maintained that the powerful speech was all Smoot: “If you know my daughter, you’d know she’s very outspoken.”