Kiana Hernandez is a courageous high school student, who decided to take ownership of her education and address the Orange County school board this fall. What she has been subjected to in the name of accountability is not different from far too many other students. Assessments are implemented without common sense. Currently 800 students just in Orange County alone had to retake the exam. Below, is the transcript of her speech to the Orange County School Board, which was the subject of an article by Leslie Postal in the Orlando Sentinel on November 7, 2014: Fed Up Student Won’t Retake FCAT Reading.
Thank you, Mr. Sublette, Mrs. Gordon, the school board and Mrs. Jenkins for this opportunity to address my school board. My name is Kiana Hernandez and I am a senior at University High School.
I am here to talk about Standardized Testing and Class Sizes. Why is it that teachers and students have to suffer because of high stakes testing? We miss out on our academics and fall behind. We are told to take THE TEST or else! I work very hard to maintain my 3.58 GPA, but I have yet to pass the FCAT. The OR ELSE for me is that I may not get a diploma. I won’t get what I’ve earned because of one test. I’ve asked my teachers, “What are your goals for my education?” All their answers were similar. My teachers answered,” My goal is to get you to pass the EOC, Benchmark, FCAT, etc.” But what happens after the test? Am I here to prepare for tests, or to prepare for life?”
People say, “Don’t take action because you are too young,” or “You don’t have a diploma, or a degree.” There are massive problems in our whole world today and it is we, the youth, who will change the world and make a difference.
Class sizes are STILL being determined. We get moved in and out of different classes, so we fall even more behind and it is NOT RIGHT, for us or our teachers.
No matter what else we accomplish, we still have to pass the test… OR ELSE. Our school system is set up for failure. WE are set up for failure. I would like to study Political Science, but according to some teachers, because I have yet to pass the test, I may not get the diploma that would help me realize my dream. If this is not corrupt, I don’t know what is. This is your children’s and your grandchildren’s education too. If we do not stand up for what is right as a whole we will end up pushed to the side…
There are many solutions to this problem. For instance, we can stop following the herd and be an example, or as a county we can stop distributing these tests.
If colleges don’t require it, why are we doing it?
The state statues speaks of monitoring progress however, there are many alternatives other than distributing a test. For example, Miami Dade County who limited benchmark testing, parents, teachers, and students stated that grades went up and the stress went down.
Recently Benchmark has been a required grade… Why? Is it just something else to put in the gradebook? Benchmarks were created to inform teachers about what the students currently know. However, the teacher will know what the students are capable of when they are doing his/her job and teaching.
This is a waste of time, paper, and is a mockery of our education.
I should be evaluated by my everyday grades in my class, NOT judged by a test I take once. One test SHOULD NOT determine my future.
At the end of her address, the board unanimously praised her for coming to speak to the board. They reiterated that they all believe that testing is out of control and that state legislators control it, “We are constitutional officers and must uphold the law.”
They also invited her to accompany the board and the PTA to lobby legislators in the spring.
Chairman, Bill Sublette’s sage advice was for Kiana to realize that she would have to take tests all her life. She held her ground with the board, asking three times, “What about the benchmarks?” She reminded the board that other counties were actively reducing the district tests.
While outgoing board member, Rick Roach assured her that she was more than a test score, he asked her, “If you were speaking to a legislator right now, what would you say to him or her?”
After a thoughtful pause, her reply was succinct, “I would want them to take the test.”
Mr. Sublette once again praised Kiana for coming forward and for raising the issues of testing and said that this was one of the most meaningful discussions the board had had about testing. He said that the board welcomes the community to come and discuss this issue with the board.
We should indulge him.