How do you feel about standardized testing? Chances are you aren’t an incredibly big fan of it. Children tend to strongly dislike taking standardized tests because it is stressful, confusing, frustrating, and very different from how their typical school day goes. Perhaps this is why a school in Florida found a controversial way to motivate students to take their standardized tests.
Someone at Creel Elementary School in Florida came up with an unusual way to get students excited about taking the FCAT. The FCAT stands for “Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test”. A grandmother who learned about it contacted the local media.
All public school students in Florida are required to participate in this statewide assessment program. This includes most students who have disabilities and most students who are English Language Learners. The FCAT is given to students who are in third grade, (which would put them at around 8 or 9 years old).
What was so controversial? Students were being served some Mountain Dew and some trail mix before taking the FCAT. The practice was started ten years ago by Principal Kathryn Eward. She decided to do this after reading articles in an education journal about its “positive effect” on students taking tests.
I’ve no idea what, exactly, this Principal read. What I do know for certain is that Mountain Dew contains a lot of sugar and some caffeine. Each student received about three tablespoons of soda in a small paper cup.
I also know that some trail mix is made up of dried fruits and nuts and that other trail mix can include those items and chocolate chips and M&Ms. There are no details about exactly what kind of trail mix the students were given.
After this practice was revealed, there were concerns about the potential of students experiencing a “sugar crash” during the test. It has been noted that there is a state law in Florida that prevents schools from selling soda.
It appears that Kathryn Eward was including the sugary treats as part of an effort to get kids excited about taking the standardized test. Other suggestions about preparing to take the test included getting a good night’s sleep and eating a healthy breakfast.
After parents complained about their child being given Mountain Dew, the practice at Creel Elementary changed. Students are now given some water before the FCAT (instead of some soda). They are still receiving some trail mix.
Image by Romana Klee on Flickr.