When put together, they can be four of the scariest words in the English language.
Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.
At Estates Elementary School, they aren’t scared. They are ready to “beat that FCAT.”
The school held an FCAT pep rally Monday afternoon to prepare students for the start of testing, which begins today for Collier County students.
Though the FCAT is scheduled statewide for March 10 to 19, the district asked the state to be on the alternate schedule of March 3 to 12 to avoid conflicts with daylight savings time, district officials said. The state of Florida allowed districts to choose the alternate date if the district had notified them prior to Sept. 15, 2008.
Lori Davidson, an English language learners immersion teacher, and Mary Wise, an exceptional education teacher, led the school’s third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students in a presentation of songs, dances and skits to get them excited about the test.
“So many of the students are nervous about it,” she said. “We just want them to believe in themselves and know that we believe in them. They can do it.”
The FCAT measures what Florida students in third through 12th grades know in reading, writing, mathematics and science. The test measures the content standards, called the Sunshine State standards in Florida.
Every student in grades three through 10 will take the reading and math tests. Grades five, eight and 11 will also be tested in science. Students in grades four, eight and 10 have already taken the FCAT writing test, which was administered last month.
How students score on the FCAT determines everything from school grades and how much state money their schools get to whether the students will have to take remedial classes or be held back for one year.
That’s what worried Alex Garcia, 9, most. He said he wants to pass the FCAT. It will be his first time taking the test.
“I feel good,” he said. “I have been working hard. I have been studying my math and reading.”
The teachers reminded them that they can beat any challenges. In a skit called “Test Busters,” the students responded with the title phrase after they were asked questions like “When the test gets rough and you’ve had enough, what are you going to be?” and “When your head aches and your pencil breaks, what are you going to be?”
As students walked into the cafeteria Monday afternoon, they were greeted by the sounds of “Gonna Fly Now,” which is the theme song to the movie “Rocky.” It transitioned into Queen’s “We Will Rock You.”
“EES, we’re the best!” Davidson shouted through a bullhorn at the students.
Third-grade teacher Lisa Lamorgese said her students are ready.
“We prepare for this all year,” she said. “It is practice, practice, practice.”
Lamorgese said she hopes her students relax and remember their FCAT tips like getting a good breakfast before the test.
Fourth-grader Loirssa Antonie, 10, said she will eat a good breakfast before her test Tuesday.
“I am ready for it. I am strong,” she said. “I totally think I am going to pass.”
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Test Taking Tips for students and parents
1. Eat a healthy breakfast, avoiding very sugary or heavy breakfast foods.
2. Get a good night of sleep.
3. Make sure your child dresses comfortably, wearing clothes that are comfortable and appropriate for the weather.
4. If your child wears a hearing aid or glasses, make sure he/she remembers to use them during all testing sessions.
5. Don’t stress — just do your best
Sources: The Collier County School District and The Florida Department of Education