Students asked to sign document not to talk about test questions

Posted at 9:28 PM, Mar 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-04 09:46:32-05

Brielle Rivera from Boynton Beach is outraged that her 10-year-old daughter Annabelle was asked to sign a document at her school saying she is not allowed to talk to anyone about questions in the Florida Standard Assessment writing test. 

“When I asked her about her test, she started crying and tells me that she can’t tell me or she’ll be arrested,” Rivera said. “I was shocked.”

On Friday Cheryl Etters from the Florida Department of Education clarified the language in the letter to NewsChannel 5 and said while students are not allowed to talk to anyone else about the questions in the test, they are allowed to talk to their parents about it. 

This is the answer posted on the FSA website: 

We encourage parents and families to ask how their child’s day went and continue to promote student success by offering positive support and feedback. Because the content of statewide assessments is secure, students are asked not to talk about specific test questions, passages, or their responses. Students are asked to sign a Testing Rules Acknowledgement, which states: “Because the content in all statewide assessments is secure, you may not reveal details about the [test content] to anyone. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as texting, emailing, or posting online, for example, on websites like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.” While students may not share information about secure test content after testing, this policy is not intended to prevent students from discussing their testing experiences with their parents and families.

Rivera said she was upset that her 10-year-old daughter and her classmates at Renaissance Charter School in Port St. Lucie were asked to sign an acknowledgement form without consent of their parents. 

West Palm Beach Lawyer James Green said children can be asked to sign some documents without their parents. 

“It’s not like a contract that’s enforceable in a court of law, however it could be enforceable in terms of disciplinary actions,” Green said. 

Rivera had no idea her daughter was asked to sign anything until after the fact. 

“No other parent should find out from their child in tears that this is being communicated in class the day of the test,” Rivera said. 

Officials with the Florida Department of Education said they are providing school districts with a letter for parents. In the case of Renaissance Charter School in Port St. Lucie, officials said they have students the letters to pass on to their parents. 

“I never received this letter,” Rivera said. 

Several other parents with children at the school confirmed they also didn’t know about this, including one mother with a child in the Broward school district.

The reason for the secrecy about the test is that FSA wants to be able to re-use the questions on their essays at a later point. 

“Why? Why would the FSA want to use the same essay questions year after year after year,” Rivera said. 

Rivera and other parents said that their children reported that teachers told them not to disclose the questions of the test with their parents.