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FCAT conflicts with taking kids to work day

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Published:   |   Updated: April 24, 2014 at 09:25 AM

— Tampa Bay area students may have to forgo this year’s national “Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work Day” to take care of some work of their own — the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

Students in Hillsborough County are taking the third- and fourth-grade math test and fifth-grade science test, while those in the sixth, seventh, ninth and 10th grades have online reading tests today — the same day as the 21st annual Work Day that encourages students to shadow their parents for a day on the job.

In Pinellas, some students in sixth, seventh, ninth and 10th grade are taking the reading test, and some sixth-graders are taking the math test.

Though school districts have a limited time to schedule their tests, from April 14 to May 7, this year’s testing period was longer than usual because of state requirements that more students take the FCAT on a computer.

The testing schedule in Pinellas and Pasco also interfered with Passover, celebrated from April 14 to 22. Though Hillsborough County was able to avoid testing on the first day of the Jewish holiday, logistically the school district could not avoid testing on the morning after the Seder celebration. All three counties offered excused absences and makeup testing days.

“The observance of major religious holidays is a reason to shift the schedule. Take your Daughter to Work Day is not,” Hillsborough school district spokesman Stephen Hegarty said Wednesday in an email.

The Pinellas County School District’s Human Resources department decided last week to eliminate the Work Day this year because of FCAT, Director of Strategic Communications Donna Winchester said in an email. However, parents who opt to take their children to work may provide a note to the teacher and the student will receive an excused absence, she said.

The FCAT hasn’t changed the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office’s celebration, which will welcome more than 100 children of Sheriff’s Office and Criminal Courts Complex employees to its headquarters today, a number similar to what the office has seen over the past three years.

While their peers take the high-stakes standardized test, these students will tour the jail, courthouse and airport hangar where sheriff’s helicopters, planes and special operations vehicles are kept, They also will participate in presentations from the Training Division, K-9 Unit, DUI Unit, Corrections Response Team and Forensics Unit. The students, ages 8 to 14, will have a cookout lunch with Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, spokeswoman Cristen Rensel said.

“My stepdaughter is in third grade and took the FCAT earlier in the week, so now they’re just doing makeup tests and she’s able to come to work with me,” Rensel said. “It’s just luck of the draw and, really, up to the discretion of the employee. I haven’t heard that FCAT’s gotten in the way this year.”

Students who miss an FCAT test to accompany their parents to work can make up the test on select dates before May 7.

adawson@tampatrib.com

(727) 215-9851

Twitter: @adawsonTBO

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