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Out of the Mouths of Third Graders

Publication Date: 2004-03-14

When children are given the chance to speak out about high-stakes tests, look at what happens.

Kids across Lake County this week and last have been taking the dreaded FCAT tests.

At Umatilla Elementary, 26-year veteran teacher Diane Conkel came up with the idea of having her third-graders write a little "simile" poem after the testing ended.

She asked them to fill in the blanks to complete these sentences:

FCAT is as . . .

FCAT is like . . .

"I was so shocked at how much of a release this was for them," Conkel said. "They were venting. Wow, they needed to get that out."

The exercise by the 8- and 9-year-olds was such an eye-opener that Conkel sent the poems to Gov. Bush.

Here's the one that Conkel said "blew me out of the water":

"FCAT is like a bully waiting for you," wrote one child.

"How well can a child do on a test if they're that nervous?" Conkel said.

The test is critical for third-graders because they must be held back a year if they fail.

Here are more poems from other creative (or maybe just traumatized?) students.

"FCAT is like fighting a T-Rex." -- Troy Allen

"FCAT is like flipping a dime because sometimes you have to guess." -- Samantha Carpenter

"FCAT is like a box of firecrackers because it sets me off!" -- Sean Ehaney

"FCAT is as hard as pulling out your teeth." -- Taylor Cilio

"FCAT is as easy as writing poetry." -- Kelly Denski

"FCAT is like a meteorite hitting Pluto because it is a long way to Pluto and FCAT is a long test." -- Ashton Brey Grinstead

"FCAT is as hard as a punch in the stomach." -- James Lee

"FCAT is like riding a motorcycle because it makes me nervous." -- Alfredo Narriaez

"FCAT is like a fireball that kept on burning, and I was HOT!" -- Taylor Austin Seegers

"FCAT is like playing with a puppy because you never know what's next." -- Haylee Waite

Taking FCAT is like 'a bully waiting for you'
Lauren Ritchie
March 12, 2004
Orlando Sentinel

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