FCAT test falls on Passover holiday, students forced to make tough choice

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FLORIDA —

Passover is a time of celebration for observant Jewish families, but a Seminole County rabbi said the rituals associated with the holiday are now being overshadowed by thoughts of the FCAT test.

This year, the Florida Department of Education sent out a memo giving the Orange, Seminole, Brevard and Marion County school districts a window for testing between April 14 and May 7, which is one week earlier than last year.

Many schools chose the week of April 14.

“This is the first day of Passover,” said Seminole County Rabbi David Kay. 

“They would never schedule it for one of the other major holidays. They certainly could have consulted a calendar to avoid his whole mishap from the get-go. Our holidays cannot be changed,” said parent Rachel Slavkin.

Rabbi Kay said he personally emails a calendar with the important dates to all school districts in central Florida.

School district officials had the option of postponing testing until after the Passover holiday, but they said that would have forced them to report scores late, which would carry consequences for schools and students.

Students who still want to observe the holiday can schedule a makeup test day.

“I was upset. I thought it was ridiculous,” Slavkin said. “They might not perform well on FCAT, which would inevitably hurt the school as well.”

Seminole County School District officials said they are currently considering two potential adjustments but cannot commit to a change at this time.