FAST fosters opposing opinions


As the annual “testing season” has begun, and the last installment of the thrice-annual progress-monitoring Florida Assessment of Student Thinking, or FAST, is being given to seventh through 10th grade students throughout the state. The test being administered three times a year signifies a departure from the Florida State Assessment, which was one test at the end of the year. Eighth and ninth-grade ELA teacher David Thompson said the change allows him to cut down on the amount of test prep his students have to do in class. 

“Because testing has been spread out, it hasn’t been so back-loaded in terms of test prep compared to last year,” Thompson said. “[Last year], I felt more pressure for that last test because, one, the students hadn’t taken those progress monitoring tests and, two, that are very similar to the end-of-year tests.”

Sophomore Noah Techouyres said that while he finds this new form of standardized testing easier than the FSA, he finds himself strained by the end of the year. 

“The FAST is a lot easier than FSA testing, but having to take three tests a year, it’s just way too much of a burden,” Techouyres said. “I don’t even try for the first test, and then the last test I’m already burnt out.”

Sophomores were also administered the replacement for the FSA Writing exam, being given the B.E.S.T. Writing exam, separate from the FAST progress monitoring program with only a few days’ notice. 

“The fact they gave us such a short notice on the writing test was pretty annoying,” sophomore Laith Zavala said.

Techouyres said students and teachers weren’t given enough time to prepare. 

“Our teachers didn’t know what to do and everyone was in a confused state,” Techouyres said. “It was a mess.”

Freshman Hryday Patel says the progress monitoring system helps him succeed. 

“The FAST helps me more than the FSA because I can see my progress throughout the year, from the beginning to the middle to the end,” Patel said.

7th grade ELA teacher Lisa Rehm said she thinks the change to the FAST was unwarranted.

“We did have progress monitoring before but it was more casual, whereas this is more formal,” Rehm said. “We didn’t have to disrupt the schedule, we could’ve gone about our business and gotten the information in class.”

Rehm said that she had the first impression of the FAST testing being more low-stakes than the FSA had been. 

“I thought OK, you want to show progress and improvement,” Rehm said. “And then it was very clear that there was concern that people hadn’t taken the test seriously enough.”

Rehm sees this change in testing from the only 7-year-old FSA as only a momentary road block. 

“Testing in this state almost feels like a moving target,” Rehm said. “We’ll figure this one out as well.”

By Jack Grimison