Melbourne school has been giving students Mountain Dew before FCAT

By Greg Pallone, Brevard County Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 8:31 PM EDT
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How would you feel if your child was given a caffeinated soft drink at school before taking a test like the FCAT? That had been happening at an elementary school in Brevard County, until one grandmother's concerns came to light.

Last week, Martha Thorp asked her granddaughter how she did on the assessment test, and was shocked at her reply.

"She said every morning, they had Mountain Dew," said Thorp.

The 10-year-old, along with other fourth-graders at Dr. W.J. Creel Elemtary School in Melbourne, was given caffeinated soda before taking the FCAT each day of testing.

Thorp said she had to wait until Monday to contact Brevard Public Schools.

"To me, it's a poor precedent," she said. "We're setting for young children that they should be hyped up before a test."

The school district checked and confirmed that the students were offered trail mix and Mountain Dew before testing, but it was not in place of the usual breakfast served, and no student was forced to drink the soda.

School officials said Principal Kathryn Eward read a Phi Delta Kappa study about keeping children's energy levels stable, and based on that, has been giving fourth-graders the snack and 3 tablespoons of Mountain Dew before taking the FCAT for the last 10 years.

Thorp, who taught locally for 20 years, said she has never heard of schools giving soda to students, testing or not.

"I don't believe that anyone but the parent should be able to give permission for that type of drink to be given to a child," she said.

Statistics show Creel Elementary is an A+ school and has received some of the highest FCAT scores in the county over the last few years.

But based on Thorp's complaint, starting Tuesday, Creel Elementary will no longer offer students Mountain Dew before their standardized test.

Instead, students will have to settle for water, which is delivered to all Brevard County elementary schools during testing.