No one knows better than Julie Sharkey-Villars about the ramifications of high-stakes testing in Florida’s public schools.
Six years ago, her 9-year-old son tried to hang himself after he twice failed the FCAT (which meant he had to repeat third grade).
Julie found him in his bedroom with a belt around his neck.
“He said he didn’t want to face anyone,” Julie said last week, reflecting on the traumatic event.
After she took the belt off his neck, she remembers just sitting in the corner and “quivering.”
Her son is now in eighth grade. He is an honor-roll student.
Julie and her husband, Rick, have five kids. They range in age from 8 (twins) to 21.
The state has switched from the FCAT to the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA). The stakes are just as high. if not higher, however.
“The test is corrupting everyone’s vision,” Julie says. “Years ago, you had to be real bad to be retained. Now, it can be 1 point.”
Creativity has been taken out of the classroom, she said, because teachers are under pressure to prepare students to take tests.
Julie wants to see Indian River County join the movement to do away with standardized tests. She’s trying to get parents to band together to make this happen.
“We need parents,” she said. “We need numbers.”
If you’re interested, see the current issue for her contact info.