Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Saturday Games Prep for FCAT Gold

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Saturday Games Prep for FCAT Gold

Article excerpt

Byline: Sandy Strickland, Times-Union staff writer

The Falcons have gotten off to a quick start and are in the lead for the Super Bowl.

But they aren't vying for gridiron bragging rights. These teams are playing for winning scores on the critical Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, known as FCAT

To that end, Wayman Academy of the Arts on the Westside has divided test takers into football teams and is holding "practice" on Saturdays.

"We've got some really dedicated teachers and staff who are volunteering their time," said Principal Tracy McGeathey.

In October, the charter elementary school started its Saturday classes from 9 a.m. to noon, with students in grades 3-5 "strongly encouraged" to attend. They will continue until testing ends in March, culminating with a celebration to crown the Super Bowl champion.

To be promoted, third-graders must pass the test's reading portion. In addition, Florida public schools receive an A to F grade based largely on students' FCAT scores. Charter schools are public in that they are funded with state money.

The Saturday students sit at round tables set up in the gym. On the walls are posters saying, "Write well," "Test smart," "Know your math" and "Go, study, win."

"We wanted to alleviate that classroom feeling and have a different atmosphere," McGeathey said. "I try to make it fun by picking a specific subject each Saturday, such as fractions or picking out context clues for reading."

From 30 to 45 students regularly attend. Teams score points by having the best attendance, mastering classroom work, behaving in class and having the least number of referrals.

Twelve-year-old Zebulon Perkins, a Forty-Niner, said he doesn't mind rising early on Saturdays.

"It's so I can make better grades," said the fifth-grade Westsider, who's trying to sharpen his math skills. …

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