Thursday, January 12, 2012

Miami-Dade Teacher Urges Parents to Opt Out of FCAT Testing

By Te-Erika Patterson

During a phone conversation with the school principal’s secretary, a concerned mother urges, “Make sure you place that letter in my daughter’s files. Make a copy and don’t lose it,” she says.

Monique Hardnett, the mother of 13-year-old Zykharia Price, an 8th grade student at Lincoln Marti Charter School’s West Hialeah Campus has filed a request for her daughter to opt out of FCAT testing. According to the federal constitution, each parent has the right to override

The FCAT which has been the standardized test of choice for Floridians since 1998 has allowed the Florida school system to grade individual schools based on test results. These test results rate the educator’s effectiveness as well as determine how and if the student will progress in their courses.

Hardnett’s daughter Zykharia, who had been in private school since infancy, felt the sting of standardized testing when she entered her first charter school at the beginning of her 7th grade year. After participating in FCAT preparatory testing she was placed in a class for students who were not expected to perform well on the FCAT.

“I want my daughter to get into a decent magnet school,” Hardnett says. “She can’t get in with a course load of classes that are remedial. Even her teacher told me that she does not belong in this type of class. At this point, I have decided that my daughter’s future will not be dictated by standardized testing. We are opting out.”

Opting out is exactly the message that Ceresta Smith hopes to deliver to parents this Saturday, January 14th, as she and members of the Joint Alumni Coalition, a group of professional alumni from historically black high schools in Miami-Dade, host a teach-in for opting out of high stakes testing. The teach-in is free and open to the public at the African American Cultural Heritage Center located at 6161 NW 22nd Avenue in Miami at 4pm.

"The liberty of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children is a fundamental right," says Smith, the founder of the Concerned Teacher Coalition. Smith is also one of the founders of United Opt Out National- the movement to end high stakes testing.

There are alternative ways to gauge a student's progress, says Smith. Students whose parents opt out may use alternative assessments such as a student’s portfolio or recorded scores from college placement tests like the ACT or SAT.

How To Opt Out of FCAT Testing

Step 1

Prepare a letter written to the school principle of your child requesting that your child opt out of standardized testing and the reasons why they will not engage in testing. To view a sample Opt Out FCAT Letter download here.

Step 2

Keep a copy of the letter for your personal records and present the letter in person to your child’s school administrative team. Take note of the date and time that you submit the letter for your own records. Request that the letter to be placed in your child’s permanent student files and that a copy of the letter be forwarded to the district manager of the school board.

Step 3

Follow up with the school principal to acknowledge receipt of the letter and to inquire about alternative activities for your child during the testing hours. No child may be forced to sit through the testing if they have opted out. Each school must provide an alternative activity for your child during the testing.

For More Information about Parental efforts to impact school legislation visit:

United Opt Out National

Save Our Schools


Is there a follow up to this video? Yes, I'm aware that her daughter was opted out last year, but what will happen when she graduates high school, if allowed? In all truth, if the child does not take the FCAT he/she will be held back. Has this been the case with Mrs. Ceresta's daughter, or did she take another assessment (SAT) to allow her to continue to the next grade and graduate?

The last paragraph states, Students whose parents opt out may use alternative assessments such as a student’s portfolio or recorded scores from college placement tests like the ACT or SAT....


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