The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

9-year-old destroys Florida’s new standardized test in front of school board

Sydney Smoot, a 9-year-old fourth grader in Hernando County, Fla., delivered a speech about Florida’s new standardized test, the Florida Standards Assessment, that drew loud applause from the audience. (Video: Hernando County TV)

Meet Sydney Smoot, a 9-year-old fourth grader in Hernando County, Fla., who has more confidence than many adults. Smoot wrote (with help from her mom) and powerfully delivered (all by herself) a speech about Florida’s new standardized test, the FSA, or Florida Standards Assessment that drew loud applause from the audience.

As you can guess, Sydney Smoot isn’t happy with having to take the FSA, the state-mandated assessment Florida paid a private company to create in place of a Common Core test the state was originally planning to give until it dropped the Common Core State Standards. A new set of standards was created for Florida, though many say they are remarkably similar to the Core. The new Florida Standards Assessment was developed, under a six-year $220 million contract let by the state, to the American Institutes for Research. The organization did not field-test the new Florida test in Florida, but rather in Utah, where it had another testing contract.

She says that the test doesn’t measure her abilities and is stressful for no good reason — and she told that to the Hernando County School Board last month, displaying a remarkable presence for someone her age.

The short video, which is worth watching, is above, and below is the transcript. According to Bay News 9, Sydney’s mother, Jennifer Smoot, said she helped her daughter with the speech but the 9-year-old wrote most of it.


…I consider myself a well-educated young lady. However with FSA tests, my five years of school …do not matter. This testing looks at me as a number. One test defines me either as a failure or a success through a numbered rubric. One test at the end of the year that the teacher or myself will not be able to see the grade until the school year is already over. I do not think all this FSA testing is accurate to tell how successful I am. It doesn’t take into account all of my knowledge and abilities, just a small percentage.
Here are my concerns. First of all, I do not feel good about a form on the FSA that you have to sign assuring that you can’t even discuss the test with your parents. I am not comfortable signing something like this. I have the right to talk to my parents about any and everything related to school and my education.
Second, why am I being forced to take a test that hasn’t even been tested on students here in Florida? So how can it be accurate and valid on what I know? Why are we taking most of the year stressing and prepping for one test at the end of the year when we should be taking tests throughout the year that really measure our ability? My opinion is that we should take a test at the beginning of the year, middle and end of the school year to accurately measure what we know.
Third, the stress and pressure that this testing puts on me and I’m sure most students is not healthy. Why should we have so much stress about one test when we should be learning and having fun in school. With all this testing in school, more fun things in school such as recess are being eliminated because of all the training for the test.


Mom: Why my kids won’t be taking the new Florida Standards Assessment test

Testing ‘disaster’ in Florida prompts call for statewide suspension

Florida Gov. Scott concedes that kids are over-tested, drops 11th-grade standardized exam