A Melbourne, Florida elementary school has said they will stop offering students Mountain Dew before they take the FCAT (Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test). As reported by Florida Today, results from the standardized test are used to make educational decisions including teacher evaluations and student retention.
The caffeine practice was discovered last week by grandmother Martha Thorp, reports Central Florida’s News 13. Thorp asked her 10-year-old granddaughter how she did on the FCAT. "She said every morning, they had Mountain Dew," recounted Thorp. The Dr. W.J. Creel Elementary School student said she and her fellow fourth graders were given the soda each day before they took the test. That didn’t sit well with the grandma. "To me, it's a poor precedent," Thorp said. "We're setting for young children that they should be hyped up before a test."
While the school confirmed that before FCAT testing, students were offered trail mix and three tablespoons of Mountain Dew in Dixie cups, they said no student was forced to consume the snack and it did not replace the usual breakfast served. Regardless, after Ms. Thorp’s complaint about the practice, the school decided that it will no longer offer the caffeinated soda.
Michelle Irwin, Brevard Public Schools Spokeswoman said, "Once that was brought to our attention, we eliminated that practice…We've advised Creel Elementary to only provide water as a beverage." Florida Today notes that “state law prevents schools from selling soda.”
Reportedly, the Mountain Dew and trail mix pre-test snack began 10 years ago after Principal Kathryn Eward read “about its positive impacts in an education journal.” Eward said, "We've done it for years. The kids look forward to the treats." Irwin explained, "[Ms. Eward] felt that it was a professional practice and implemented it…Since then, there's been new information (about what's best for students)."
Principal Eward is respectful of the parents’ concerns and said, "It's wonderful for people to be mindful of their kids, and what they're eating and drinking and doing."
Water provided by the school district will replace the soda so Creel Elementary students will no longer ‘Do the Dew.”