FAS Testing starts

As testing time rolls back around this year, schools are facing a new situation where COVID is altering the way we usually do things. How will testing be done this year? What will happen when students who have been schooled at home these last months, are all made to go into schools for testing?

According to Alberto Carvalho, Superintendent of Schools, unlike last spring when testing was optional for students, this year every child must participate.

“This year, the Florida Department of Education expects all students to take the Florida Statewide assessments (FSA),” he said. That includes the following tests: FSA English Language Arts Writing and Reading, Mathematics, Science, and End-of-Course exams in Algebra 1, Geometry, Biology 1, Civics, U.S. History and the Florida Standards Alternate Assessments (FSAA).”

Michelle Coto, the principal of Key Biscayne K-8 Center shared that

At the Key Biscayne K-8 Center, FSA testing will be April 8-9 for third grade, with middle school testing on April 15-16. Parents were sent an email via school messenger on April 5 with the testing dates and times.

Students who have been taking virtual classes at home will be brought in to the school for testing, according to Coto. Extra precautions are being implemented due to COVID, she said. “We will be bringing those students in at 9:30, a different time than the rest of the students. They will all be coming in a separate gate, and escorted to their own testing rooms, they will not be a part of the rest of the population.”

Coto acknowledged that the extra work done this year for students would not have been possible without the school’s dedicated staff and PTA. “The parents have been extremely helpful too,” Coto added.

For information about upcoming ACT and SAT registration deadlines, test prep materials and other testing information, click here.

Parents Beware! Scammers on the prowl

When it comes to college admissions, standardized test scores carry a lot of weight -- and access to scholarships. They can also help determine what classes an elementary or middle school student will be in the next year. With so much pressure to succeed, many parents and students will do almost anything to better their scores.

Unfortunately, scammers often prey on those feelings by tricking parents into paying for illegitimate test-prep materials. With testing time upon us, the Better Business Bureau reports that scamming incidences have increased.

Scammers pose as members of the College Board or other educational organizations, offering test prep materials with the promise of improving test scores. But after getting your money, they deliver nothing.

There are many types of scammers out there, but many follow the pattern recently reported from Washington state. The caller claimed to be working with the child’s school guidance department. They said they needed a credit card number to deliver test prep supplies, which they said would be reimbursed when the supplies were returned.No money was ever refunded, and further changes incurred.

The state Attorney General warned parents to be wary if anyone represents themselves as being from the College Board, especially if they ask for passwords or bank accounts. The College Board will not ask for that information, and they do not call or email to solicit sales.

If a caller claims to be from, or working with, your child's school, don’t hesitate to hang up and call that institution directly to verify. Also, be especially leery of requests to pay by money wire, prepaid cards or digital wallets like Cash App or Venmo.

Where to get legitimate test prep materials

On Key Biscayne, legitimate test prep materials are readily available.

According to Yamilka Gonzalez, a librarian at the public library, ACT and SAT prep materials from the publisher McGraw Hill, as well as other test preparation materials, can be ordered if not in hand already.

“Any requests that parents have for materials, we will be happy to order,” she said. “We really appreciate any input from parents on anything we can get to help them out. We are here for the community.”

There are also legitimate test-prep packages available through the College Board at https://www.collegeboard.org. They contain examples of how questions will be worded, and also lists of sample questions/answers for practicing.

If you decide to buy test prep materials online from legitimate services, the Better Business Bureau recommends you use a credit card, not a debit or checking account, since credit cards offer better protection.

Anyone who encounters a scammer should file a complaint with the state Attorney General’s Office at MyFloridaLegal.com, or by calling 1-866-9NO-SCAM.