FCAT stands for Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. That is where students in grades 3 through 10th grade take the state test to show that they understood the material given to them at a given year. Well, I got by the math portion very easily; that was a piece of cake. It was the reading part that I had trouble with and it took me all the way to about 2 weeks before graduation to pass it. When I passed it, I avoided the bad consequences of not getting at least a 300 on it. There were a series of events that went along with it.
One of the causes was the performance I did when I took the reading FCAT in 11th grade. It all started the summer before the 12th grade. I took the FCAT in March 2006. It was crucial for my class, as juniors, to pass it either in 11th or 12th grade to graduate. Well, I didn’t know I didn’t pass it until I received a letter from the school saying that I needed to take it over the summer. Sure enough, my parents convinced me to sign up and practice the test with FCAT Explorer; I took their word. I signed up to take the test over the summer, but I wasn’t able to practice it with FCAT Explorer because they wanted a higher version of Windows Media (I had version 8; they wanted a 9). I took the test that June and failed with a level 1. I was rushing to get out because I did not feel comfortable going to Deltona High over the summer to take the test.
They placed me in an intensive reading class the following August. That class was supposed to help those like me to pass the FCAT and to graduate with the class with an actual diploma. I was glad it was there because with that, I was able to pass the test, but it was clear to me that I didn’t kick in quickly until the last chance possible. It was an 18-week course, just like any core class in high school, but it was an elective and it was not a choice for any of us. All students with level one must take the class by law.
I took the FCAT again in October. This time I took my time, but it was not enough to go over the minimum of 300. I scored a 291 when I got the score the following January; that is nine points away from a 300. It was a level two, but the report card that came later in October had the results from June. They cannot skip the results, so there was no way to avoid it. At first, I had some confusion about what scores go on what report card, but I saw that they don’t skip, so I had to live with it.
Then I got a report card in January saying that I got a level two on the FCAT I took last October, but it wasn’t enough to get a passed stamped on it. As a result, I eased up on my push to pass it and at the same time not lose focus. My parents eased up a bit too, and they were behind me so I got support there. Even though I scored a 291, I wanted to erase my parents’ fears of me not graduating by working hard to get those nine points to make it to the big leagues.
It was February 26, 2007, the first of the four FCAT days in high school. Since I was a senior at Deltona High, I had to give the best effort possible to get at least a level three before the year is up. I sat in a classroom with my fellow classmates – those that were also in danger of not graduating. I remembered that we can take it over as many times as we like, but until the age of 21. I also remembered that you can walk down the aisle with a score under 300, but you would get a certificate of completion. There were 54 multiple-choice questions on the test. I studied each question and gave the best answer; they wanted the best answer. It was four and a half hours long, and that is how long it took me to complete it. They said you can take it until the school ends at 2:45 PM. At the same time, I had a gut feeling of what would happen if I did or did not pass it. I had that gut feeling for nearly two months.
It was May 2, 2007, that I dreaded, even though no one told me that it is the date the scores came out. I was called to my guidance counselor’s office and she told me that I have passed FCAT reading with a 310. I had gotten the nine points needed, plus the extra ten, so I was very excited. I called my mom, she called my dad, and everyone was happy that I have passed. I could not believe that what I thought took until the next summer to accomplish was done in a year. My brother graduated a year before me, so I was in a lot of pressure. As a result, graduation was more exciting than ever.
I sat with the class of 2007 on May 16 at the Ocean Center. The news about my score of 310 was stuck in my head, but I was okay when I walked down the aisle to get my diploma. I felt great, but at the same time, I wished I had not taken all my senior year just to pass a state test.
All of the events I went through in my senior year were the hot topics in my head, but through it all, plus perseverance and support, I was able to accomplish something I thought would take longer.