Group critical of FCAT encourages parents to 'opt out' - FOX 35 News Orlando

Group critical of FCAT encourages parents to 'opt out'

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By Tracy Jacim, Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) -- The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, or FCAT, will be administered until 2014, at which time a new standardized test is set to take its place. 

But it's of no consequence to parent Richard Bolam, who sees the exam as flawed and believes parents should be allowed to have their children opt out of having to take the test. 

"I'm the parent.  I feel what is right for my student is she shouldn't be stressed as a student... not at all.  There are more things to worry about than one test."

Bolam has a third-grader in an Orange County school and a fifth-grader who is being home-schooled.  We met Bolam and two other parents at Bolam's home on Thursday. They are part of the  group Opt Out Orlando, which they say is growing fast.  They also say they don't believe there will be any repercussions if their kids are among those who do not take the FCAT.

"I'm not real concerned about repercussions, because I believe they are not true," says Bolam.

The issue came to a head at the last school board meeting, when Bolam told board members his group's plan to urge parents to have their kids opt out of taking the FCAT.  Some board members, including Board Chair Bill Sublette, pointed to state statute and said the test is not optional.

We read the statute, which states that, "...participation in the assessment program is mandatory for all students attending public school."

Sublette told FOX 35 that there are indeed possible repercussions for any student who opts out, including: remediation, not being promoted to the next grade, not graduating with a diploma, and even truancy.

Still, Opt Out Orlando parents are onboard with what they say is becoming a growing national movement against standardized tests.  

"We hope to get out as much information as we can about what parental rights are, and whether we can choose to opt out of the FCAT," says parent Parent Cindy Hamilton.

Sublette points out that Orange County schools have improved greatly in national rankings over the last decade and that the FCAT has been in place for twelve years.

Local parents who have joined Opt Out Orlando tell us that there have been a few kids around the state who have opted out with no repercussions, but they were unable to get us in contact with parents of those children at the time this report was published.

Opt Out Orlando will hold a public forum Tuesday, April 2, at First Christian Church on East Kaley Avenue in Orlando.


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