UPDATE: Ethan Rediske died on Thursday, his family told News 13.
Eleven-year-old Ethan Rediske has been in hospice care for the past month and is likely nearing the last days of his life. Yet, it appears Florida school officials aren’t convinced he should be able to opt out of an upcoming standardized test.
Florida requires all students in the state to take a version of Florida’s Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). While a recent law allows some special education students facing exceptional circumstances to be exempt from these tests, getting approval isn’t easy.
Although Ethan, who was born with cerebral palsy and has severe brain damage, was already waived from taking these tests, his family is being required to go through "a multi-layered process" to prove he should still be exempt from the standardized testing, the Orlando Sentinel notes.
The Rediskes could ignore exemption requirements, but if they do not go through the proper channels, Ethan’s special education teacher, Jennifer Rose, will likely be penalized -- something the family does not want to happen. (As the report notes, in Florida, teacher evaluation scores and pay are tied to standardized test scores.)
“Jennifer is the greatest example of what a dedicated teacher should be,” Ethan's mother, Andrea, recently wrote in an e-mail to an Orange County School Board member, according to the Washington Post.
The email notes that although the teacher has communicated that Ethan is in hospice care, she has been required to fill out reports on his progress. "This madness has got to stop," the mom's message concludes.
Last year, before Florida passed a law allowing children in extraordinary circumstances to opt out of standardized testing, Ethan was required to take a version of the FCAT. At the time, his mother spoke out about the physical strain this was putting on her son.
“Each question can take up to 10 to 15 minutes just to do one question. So he’s spending hours in his wheelchair and he has severely compromised lungs,” Andrea told local outlet Bay News 9 at the time.
She also said the test’s questions weren’t relevant for her son.
“They’re asking him questions about the way a peach tastes, and he’s fed through a tube in his stomach, and he will never taste a peach. They ask him about shoes and staplers and alarm clocks and school buses. Ethan doesn’t interact with any of those things,” she told the outlet.
At the time, the Florida Department of Education's Mary Jane Tappen told Bay News 9 the state uses the tests to get better information on how to help students in the future.