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10-year-old Wants To Stop FCAT

Susan Notes: A Florida 10-year-old has an online petition to stop the FCAT. All you Floridians, go sign. And may this be inspiration for kids in other states. Hey, may it be inspiration for teachers to rise up and protest.


Mission: Stop FCAT
I am 10 years old, my name is Joe Sabella and I am on a mission to stop the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. My reasons are that it takes away our learning time, it makes kids sick and scared and it makes teachers start working too hard. It’s great to work hard, but it’s better to do a good amount of educational games.

When teachers do educational games, it makes kids learn better and bank the info in their heads. One more thing is that the test is not really helping anyone, and it is a tricky test that makes kids scared. I know that when kids are scared, they can’t remember things very well. Sign a petition online at petitiononline.com/nofcat/petition.html
JOE SABELLA, Cape Coral


Pupil wants to stop FCAT

Petition will be presented to Gov. Bush


Pelican Elementary School fourth-grader Joe Sabella doesn’t like the FCAT, and he’s taking his complaints straight to the governor.

Joe, 10, launched an online petition calling for Gov. Jeb Bush to stop the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests that students in grades 3 to 10 must take.

In a week’s time, he’s collected 64 electronic signatures. He wants to get at least 100 before he sends the form to Tallahassee.

“I really don’t think it does anything for anyone,” Joe said Wednesday after school.

He said he was less nervous this year than he was as a third-grader, but the whole experience got him thinking about whether the test did him or his classmates any good.

“... all it is is a tricky test that makes kids scared,” he wrote in the petition. “I know that when kids are scared, they can’t remember things very well.”

He visited the school clinic last month after testing because of a sore throat. A number of other students were there, feeling sick from stress, Joe said.

Joe said he misses the educational games teachers sometimes play when they’re not preparing students for the FCAT. Math and word games help the information stick in his head, Joe said.

“FCAT kind of stops all that,” he said.

Some of the people who signed his petition were students, some of whom cheered when they heard about his efforts, Joe said.

Others, like Peggy Benson of Lehigh Acres, are com-munity members similarly concerned about the FCAT’s effect on children. Benson, 58, used to work for a Virginia school district and saw how “terrified” students were about standardized testing. Now in Florida, her own 9-year-old grandson took the FCAT for the first time last month.

“Literally, the whole week before, he had an upset stomach, was nervous and scared,” said Benson, who learned about Joe’s effort by reading the editorial page of Wednesday’s The News-Press.

Benson thinks many children are smart but don’t test well, and so she believes the test is unfair.

A phone call to the governor’s press office was not returned Wednesday.

The idea for the petition was Joe’s alone, said his mom, Betty Sabella, and his teacher, Elizabeth White, who doesn’t talk about the FCAT in her class in her Cape Coral classroom unless it’s part of a lesson.

“He is a wonderful student, and he is always interested in doing independent projects and going above and beyond,” White said.

Joe brought his teacher another independent project not long ago — a petition to create a new law protecting police officers during traffic stops. Joe said he thinks drivers should be required to hand over their keys so that they don’t take off on the officers while they check driving records. He got the idea one day while seeing a patrol car pull someone over.

Joe’s still working on collecting signatures for that one.

He also spends his free time doing projects, such as raising money for animal shelters, or starting businesses, such as cat-sitting and weed-pulling, to earn money, Sabella said.

Sabella’s proud of her son’s FCAT efforts, but she stressed he’s neither a disgruntled student nor struggling with the test. He merely got bored during the month or so leading up to the FCAT, when Sabella said the school focus turned largely to test preparation.

“I think he’s learned early enough in life that if you’re passionate about it, and you want to do something, you can,” she said.

Joe earned school board Chairwoman Jeanne Dozier’s praise.

“I just applauded the young man for taking the initiative,” Dozier said after reading Sabella’s letter to the editor, which appeared in Wednesday’s The News-Press.

She lauded his writing ability.

“He’s learning these skills — he’s learning them in school,” she said.

“From the FCAT,” interrupted fellow board member Elinor Scricca, who thinks the FCAT will become easier to manage once teachers become more comfortable with it. “It’s a work in progress,” Scricca said of the 6-year-old test.

Dozier worried about kids making themselves sick over the test.

“We need to hold schools accountable, but if there is so much focus ... this high, high focus on the FCAT, then something is wrong,” Dozier said.

Let Bush figure it out, she added.


— Jennifer Booth Reed
Pupil wants to stop FCAT
New-Press
2004-04-01
http://news-press.com/news/local_state/040401fcat.html


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