FSA Preparation


Adriana Montenegro

Mr. Dabalsa grades students' informational essays.

Adriana Montenegro, Reporter

TERRA English teachers are preparing their students for a significant test: the FSA writing. The Florida Standard Assessment (FSA) is a test that students need to pass in order to receive their high school diploma.

Teachers like Mr. Reyniel Dabalsa, also known as Mr. D, are preparing their students with different lessons on what to include and not include in an essay. Mr. Dabalsa has created binders for his students, including samples of high-scoring and low-scoring papers. Students will be taking the exam on Mar. 5 and 6.

“I am using a variety of resources. For the writing portion [essay], I am spending quite a bit of time trying to break students out of the overused molds they were taught in elementary and middle school,” Dabalsa said. “The FSA needs to be written in what I term ‘college-level, elevated language,’ and students will be writing three practice essays in class and incorporating all the elements I teach them.”

Dabalsa is confident that his students will pass the exam. “Students come to school each and every day wanting to learn and to improve. If students are well prepared by their teachers, I expect a 100 percent passing rate.”

Dabalsa assures that his students are understanding the material. “My lectures and the documents I use to supplement those lectures, tend to be written in language and with examples that are easy to understand no matter where a student is academically or intellectually. Plus, I try to be the type of teacher who encourages questions during class and after school,” Dabalsa mentioned.

Likewise, Mrs. Carmen Castro is using many different techniques to prepare her students for the FSA and is very positive that her students will pass this exam. “For the reading, we are using Edgenuity, a program that students complete at home and then they take tests during class. We also use a  program called WriteScore, and WriteScore is a program that Mr. Sirven purchased, and it mimics what the test will be like. That helps them out to prepare, they look at their strengths and their weaknesses. We also did essays where they graded them themselves, and essays that I have graded, that has prepared them for the test,” Castro explained.

Castro recommends that before the test, students get a good night sleep, a good breakfast, and think positive. “I think thinking positive is the most important part for anything in life that you do, to think that you can do anything that you can put your mind to,” Castro said.

Castro believes that what her students need help in writing is support. “I think that the hardest thing for them is support. Sometimes, they can formulate an introduction, but then the body paragraphs become difficult to support your responses with the information from whatever text you are given.”

Sophomore Loreli Cruz feels she will pass the 10th grade FSA because she has successfully passed the ones in the past and is preparing herself for this exam.

“I think that students shouldn’t only be represented by one score on one test we take each year and that our grade in the class should also play a part in it,” Cruz said.

Similarly, sophomore, Nikitha Chintalapati, agrees with the fact that she has become a better writer. “Since I have always had an interest in writing, my teachers further helped better my skills and techniques on how to implement my beliefs into my writing,” Chintalapati said.

Chintalapati believes that state testing “is okay” because it does justify if a student is ready to move on to the next grade level by checking their understanding. “I believe that different students are at different levels. A student that does not do well in writing essays should practice writing more than a student who has greater writing abilities. It isn’t fair to further implement writing on a student who is already knowledgeable in writing essays,” said Chintalapati.