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Parkland parent shocked that some HS students are still required to take standardized tests

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Shannon Fest, the parent of a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student, is shocked and unhappy that her daughter is still required to undergo standardized testing this year following February's deadly Parkland mass killing.

As a result, she's speaking out against the notion and has created a petition to stop the testing from happening.

What are the details?

According to the Miami Herald, Shannon's daughter, Lauren, is a freshman at the school and is still suffering the ill effects of the February mass murder that took place at her school.

Lauren was at school the day a mass killer took the lives of at least 17 people at the school and injured many more.

The Herald reported that Lauren suffers from anxiety attacks and has to make special accommodations for herself — such as arriving late to school each morning and skipping lunch to avoid crowds and loud noises — in order to simply get through the day.

Additionally, Lauren attends therapy sessions both at school and after the school day ends.

Shannon told the Herald that when she discovered that her daughter would still be required to take a state test in order to remain on track for graduation, she was dismayed to say the least.

"These kids, they can't think and learn when they're frightened and when they don't feel safe," Shannon explained. "Right now they can't be held accountable for learning that hasn't occurred, for instruction that hasn't happened."

Shannon added that "we're all in survival mode."

According to the Herald, Florida state lawmakers provided an exemption to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students from "some standardized tests" in order to afford them room to recover physically, mentally, and emotionally.

The outlet reported that "[p]rovisions in a massive education bill" signed in March by Gov. Rick Scott (R) mandated that Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students — including seniors, who would typically be tested for graduation requirements — aren't required to take standardized tests for the remainder of the year.

The Herald's Kyra Gurney wrote, "[T]he bill doesn't exempt students in lower grades from the graduation requirements, which means they still need to pass Algebra I and English Language Arts exams, typically taken in ninth and tenth grade, in order to stay on track."

"While Stoneman Douglas students can wait until next year to take the tests, some families worry it will be hard to pass them after all the class time they've missed," Gurney adds.

According to the report, the mandate affects approximately 50 percent of the student body, and now parents like Shannon — as well as Broward County school officials — are asking the state to give the Marjory Stoneman Douglas students a pass.

"The ninth and tenth graders still have this test over their heads that they have to take," Angie Gallo, legislative chair for the Florida PTA, said. "Not taking this test isn't going to make them not successful, but stressing them out and hurting them again — I just don't see the point."

Shannon has started a Change.org petition in which she calls for Gov. Scott to make an exemption for the rest of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas student body.

At the time of this writing, the petition had received over 2,900 signatures.

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