Suwannee Democrat

Local News

March 17, 2006

DOE says students must take FCAT

Several weeks ago, a lady walking along the sidewalks close to Suwannee Elementary School holding an "FCAT Must Go!" sign raised concerns about the FCAT. Carol Castagnero, who is running for governor of Florida as a Democrat, said she is running as a non-contender to raise awareness about the FCAT.

Castagnero, who believes the FCAT is destroying children, made several statements about the test. She said the FCAT is unconstitutional and parents don't know their children don't have to take it. She said no one has a right to retain a child because of not making a test grade. She said there are students throughout Florida not taking FCAT, because they know their constitutional rights, and there are teachers in Florida refusing to teach FCAT.

Castagnero said she is also against the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act because of the strict guidelines the government is imposing on teachers.

Department of Education (DOE) Communications Director Jennifer Fennell said FCAT has been in the state statutes since 1998 when Gov. Lawton Chiles developed the test as a state assessment program.

"Teachers must meet state and local requirements. So the requirement for FCAT is pretty clear," Fennell said. "As far as I know all public school students are required to take the test. The only exception might be for special needs students who graduate on different terms than the average student."

Fennell said all school districts in Florida are required to provide summer camps and remedial instruction to prevent holding a child back from moving to the next grade.

Suwannee County School Board Attorney Andrew Decker said the FCAT is a requirement of various state statutes and of the Florida DOE.

"If she (Castagnero) thought there was any merit to her allegations, she could file a lawsuit in the court system to determine the matter," Decker said.

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