DRS student breaks the FCAT curve


Humility is just one of the many character traits this young lady possesses. After becoming the first person in FAMU Developmental Research School’s history to score a six on the writing portion of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) in March, Nia Imani Spencer, 14, remains just as shy as ever. 


 “It’s cool because I didn’t think about it, I just thought about 5 by 5 and attention grabbers,” said the ninth grader while shifting her eyes to the floor and keeping her hands folded in her lap.


The FCAT was first administered in 1998, designed for students in grades 3-11 on basic levels in “mathematics, reading, science, and writing, which measure student progress toward meeting the Sunshine State Standards (SSS) benchmarks” according to the Florida Department of Education’s website.


Scoring a 6 on the FCAT means the student has an adequate understanding of the material students at his or her grade level should be learning.


“I was kind of amazed, but at the same time I knew I did well. Scoring a 6 made me feel really special and I got my own introduction (at school).” said Spencer. “Even though I did well, my teachers made sure I stayed focused.”


The administration at FAMU DRS realized the significance of Spencer’s 6. Former superintendent Ronald Holmes featured Spencer in the DRS newsletter and described her as “brilliant”, and several faculty and staff members  personally congratulated the young scholar.


“My teachers told the other students, ‘If she can do it, you guys can do it too,'” said Spencer.


With her grandmother, Debbie Williams, working in the guidance office, Spencer is no stranger to the values of education. 


“She loves to read,” said Williams. “She watches the Discovery Channel and reads all day.”


Spencer admits although she didn’t do much studying for the FCAT essay; her love of reading helped her through.


“When I get it, I got it, and I don’t have to study.” said Spencer.


The young high school student has dreams of becoming valedictorian at FAMU DRS and eventually at Georgia Institute of Technology.


FAMU DRS, which has operated under numerous names, is designed to “conduct research, demonstration and evaluation of the management of teaching and learning” according to its website.


As far as her future at FAMU DRS is concerned, Spencer remains optimistic.


“It’s going to be different, but I’m excited,” said Spencer.