Surge in 2017 Test Reform Victories… What’s behind it?

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By Sandy Stenoff

Don’t let anyone tell you that organized resistance to high stakes testing isn’t making a difference. It IS. But we still have a lot more work to do.

Activists and informed citizens must keep engaging parents, teachers, principals, superintendents, school boards and legislators. Here is some good information to share with them.

Highlights:
  • States with high school exit exams dropped from 25 to 13 since 2012 (Florida still does).
  • Various states cut tests for Kindergarten and high school. Districts across the nation, including locales with many students of color and low-income families, ended their tests.
  • Seven states halted the use of student scores to judge teachers.
  • Ten states now allow parents to opt their children out of some or all exams* (see note below)
  • Increasing implementation of performance assessments by states and districts. New Hampshire’s pioneering program now involves half the state’s districts.

The report focuses on case studies of Maryland and seven districts that eliminated or sharply reduced the amount of testing, and of states that ended graduation tests. The studies describe how the victories were won, such as through clear organizing strategies, alliance building, using surveys, developing clear messages that focuses on benefits to students, and winning school board elections.

These cases will be of use to union, parent, student and other activists seeking to end the overuse and misuse of tests and implement teacher-developed, student-focused performance assessments. The report also includes links to a usable, online survey developed by FairTest and allies.

Note: The Opt Out Florida Network doesn’t necessarily see this as a *good* thing for this movement. “Opt out” is a protest. We don’t ask for permission. Click here to learn more. 


IMPORTANT
As of Nov 13, 2017, the list of test-optional colleges and universities is now just shy of 1,000. See FairTest’s press release here. 

“The past three years – since the redesigned SAT was announced – have seen the fastest growth ever of schools dropping ACT/SAT mandates,” explained FairTest Public Education Director Bob Schaeffer. More than 80 colleges and universities reduced standardized exam requirements in that period. That’s a pace of one every two weeks.

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Kindergarteners To Work “Second Shift”

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By Sandy Stenoff

Education expert, Alfie Kohn has written extensively about the lack of any real educational value in homework, especially for young children.

In this brief video, he refers to homework, after a full day of school, as the Second Shift. After a full day of Kindergarten, homework for 5-year-olds IS just like working a second shift. Why can’t they just be 5 years old?

Last night, in the Opt Out Seminole group on Facebook, parent Brandi Kitchens shared this letter sent home with her Kindergartener yesterday. For whatever reason, the school is unable to get in the 90 minutes/week of i-Ready during school and demanding, not demanding that parents see to it at home, complete with bribes galore to enforce compliance. Many parents were appalled. It was a robust discussion. While there were a few parents who stated that their child likes i-Ready, outraged is not too strong a word for what others expressed.

Seminole County is not alone in this poor educational practice. i-Ready is excessively required in Orange County, Palm Beach County (here, here and here) , Miami-Dade County and many others – to the same degree. Parents in the Opt Out groups have been discussing i-Ready homework for months. And they’ve had enough.

Dr. Denisha Jones, Early Education expert from Defending the Early Years chimed in:

“Apalled. I don’t care if the child likes it or not. Some kids might like licking cement but we don’t let them do it. No kindergarten child should have homework, but if you must, one worksheet or a story to read should be the max. I think it will take parents drawing the line on the amount of time spent on homework at all grade levels and opting out of anything in excess of that time for schools to think about ending this obscene policy.”

What would YOU think if you received this letter from your child’s school?

Letter to Kindergarten Parents from a Seminole County elementary school

Brandi and Jonathan Kitchens sent this letter to SCPS Superintendent, Dr. Walt Griffin:

Dear Dr. Griffin,

When my husband and I decided to move to Florida this summer, we chose to move to Seminole County because of its solid reputation for doing what is best for children in education.

Yesterday, my child brought home a letter from school informing me that SCPS is now requiring Kindergarteners to complete 90 minutes per week of Math and Reading on i-Ready. At home. The letter says that children who do not do i-Ready at home will not be punished. However they will also not partake of the rewards shared with those who put in their i-Ready hours. They will be excluded from multiple trips to Treasure Box and Fish Awards, which will be used in larger weekly prizes. Therefore, punished without calling it punishment.

This is unacceptable.

These children are FIVE YEARS OLD. They’ve already put in their seven hours of hard work at the office. Seven hours of being good. Seven hours of being told what to do, say and think, of “minding their manners” with other five-year olds, of sitting still and “keeping your hands to yourself,” of lessons and lining up for lunch and learning to color inside the lines.

This is to advise you that my child will not be completing i-Ready at home. We will not subject him to “overtime” at home. When he gets home, he needs to tell me about his day. He needs to play and climb trees. He does not need to do MORE work. He does not need the screen time. He needs to just be five years old.

What is striking to me in the letter is that there is no mention of how i-Ready will benefit my child, only how important it is to get in his “minutes” and we will do everything possible to get in those precious minutes.” There is NO research demonstrating that 90 minutes of weekly i-Ready will improve any student’s learning. In a school year, that’s 54 hours of assessments. Just for i-Ready. Unacceptable.

Furthermore, not all families are “plugged in” making this is an unfair demand. But if i-Ready is online and the school has the ability to track student time in the program, why would parents need to sign off “yes” or “no” on the calendar?

Parents get homework too!

This strikes me as further distancing my child from others in the class due to our inability or (disinterest) in the program. The entire “reward system” seems unfair, and inappropriate in a class full of Kindergarteners.

My understanding is that i-Ready is being used to evaluate teachers. It is not any child’s job to sacrifice valuable time with his teacher for his teacher’s evaluation.

I am told by an elementary school teacher of more than twenty years with a Masters degree in Developmental Psychology that there is a “standard of care” that academia and early childhood experts have concluded is best for children. And that would be NO HOMEWORK IN KINDERGARTEN. The people who know what’s best for children have determined homework is not one of those things.

We do believe that running and playing outside for the hour of daylight after we get home from work is more valuable for all aspects of his growth and development than any amount of i-Ready, especially after a full day of school. We believe that helping to set the table will teach him more practical math; and reading together as a family at bedtime will help instill a love of reading far more than i-Ready ever could. Family first.

There is ample research against using extrinsic motivation in school. Therefore, I hope that special treats will be shared with the entire class – just as treats, not incentives. Has it even occurred to anyone in the district to question the wisdom of i-Ready if the schools must “incentivize” participation to the extent that it does in order to get the compliance it seeks?

Because we strongly disagree with i-Ready for homework, and with the use of the school’s “rewards game” to coerce five-year-olds into compliance, it is our family’s decision that he not participate. I am prepared to discuss with my five-year-old, the fact that life can sometimes be unfair, and that as his Mom and Dad, WE have to decide what is best for him. He will understand that if he is excluded from “treats or special rewards” at school, he is not being punished by his teacher – he is being punished by his school district’s questionable demands.

Please restore our trust in this district and put a stop to requiring i-Ready as homework for our youngest students. Please stop demanding that schools and teachers push for the “minutes.” It is an unnecessary stress for families.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Respectfully,

Brandi and Jonathan Kitchens
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This is not the norm in every district – most, but not all. In Marion County, Supt. Heidi Maier has all but banned homework for elementary grades. It’s true! A Florida school district banned homework.

From the Washington Post (July 17, 2017)
“Why this superintendent is banning homework — and asking kids to read instead”

“Heidi Maier, the new superintendent of the 42,000-student Marion County public school district in Florida, said in an interview that she made the decision based on solid research about what works best in improving academic achievement in students. They are being asked to do one thing to help them academically: Read for 20 minutes a night.”

Let me repeat – in bold, AND underlined:

“..she made the decision based on solid research about what works best in improving academic achievement in students. They are being asked to do one thing to help them academically: Read for 20 minutes a night.

This IS possible in your district too. But not unless YOU demand it.

Otherwise, this may be the alternative for your child…

1frequenthomeworkprogramCOLCP 6
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SUGGESTED READING

CBE (Competency Based Education) or personalized learning
Digital Curriculum: Questions Parents Should be Asking
We change the world by showing up. I went to Seattle and got a video on Ed Reform 2.0

Early Childhood
Defending the Early Years
National Association for the Education of Young Children
10 NAEYC Standards

i-Ready
Are all parents aware of i-Ready in our public schools? – PB Post Letters
i-Ready or not? $5.6M software targets reading, math – PB Post
Comparing PBC school day hours, use of iReady, planning time, more – PB Post

The case against homework
The Case Against Homework- Alfie Kohn
The Homework Myth – Alfie Kohn (Book)
FOR TEACHERS – The Homework Debate: The Case Against Homework
– Concordia University (Updated Nov 17, 2017)
No, my kindergartner won’t be doing that homework assignment – WaPo
Rethinking Homework – Alfie Kohn

 

Student’s Thoughtful Letter To Gov. Scott: Please #Veto7069

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A high school student has now added his voice to the growing chorus opposing HB7069. Jonathan Suarez is a Junior at the School for Advanced Studies in Miami-Dade County, Florida. He wrote his own letter to Governor Scott urging him to veto HB 7069.

His letter was published in full in the Washington Post today:

“The part of this bill that causes the most insecurity to me, as a student and so many others is how little time was allowed  to properly debate and discuss this massive 278-page bill, a fact that caused Senator David Simmons – a Republican who favors most of the provisions in this bill – to vote against the bill. The process and little time given for the public and other senators to properly read the bill compromises the integrity of our own political process. Democracy requires adequate debate and anything less is just plain wrong.

Please do not allow the Florida legislature to deprive our already underfunded public schools of needed funding. Public schools serve 75% of all students in Florida and provides millions of poor Floridians their only chance at success. Handing over public funds to private corporations, that have not proved they are better at educating children will destroy not only public schools, but school communities. Florida has already documented tens of millions of dollars lost to charter school mismanagement and fraud, with no way to recover those losses. That’s a loss to my education and to the education of every public school student.”

Since May 8, when HB7069 narrowly passed in the Florida Senate, just about every public education stakeholder has voiced serious concerns, calling on Governor Rick Scott to veto the bill. While the outcry from educators and grassroots parents has been authentic and loud, some proponents of the bill are being paid to promote it, while others stand to profit. Those opposed include the Florida Association of District Schools Superintendents, Florida School Boards Association, individual school districts, Florida Education Association, the League of Women Voters of Florida, Florida PTA and numerous other parent advocates across Florida.  Today, the First Amendment Foundation joined the opposition, for the bill’s utter lack of transparency and for skirting the legislative process.

As of today, even though the state’s main budget has been submitted to the Governor, House Speaker Corcoran and Senate Majority Leader Joe Negron have still not submitted HB7069. Once the Governor receives it, he will have 15 days to veto it. If he does nothing, it automatically becomes the law, even without his signature. So what’s the hold up? Here’s today’s update on the GOP’s delay tactics

A list of the worst of this bill can be found here.

We urge you strongly to send your own appeal to Rick Scott urging him to veto HB 7069.

Postcard:
Office of Governor Rick Scott
State of Florida
The Capitol
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001
Call: (850) 488-7146
E-mail the Governor

From student, Jonathan Suarez:

“When I read the bill I was shocked at how bad it actually was. I discussed it with teachers in my school and they agreed. I’m aware of the impact this will have on millions of children and those who need the most help in our society. I figured maybe I can’t do much, but I can add a student voice to help balance the voices of those who would support this bad bill.  Hopefully, the Governor will hear us.”

Jonathan’s complete letter:

 

Dear Governor Scott,

As a student at the School for Advanced Studies in Miami-Dade Public Schools, I took notice of the education bill passed in the Florida legislature this week: HB7069. I read the bill and discussed its effect on the future of millions of children’s education with teachers and my community.  All my teachers have voiced their fears and concerns about the bill.

My public school’s merit and accomplishments are in no small way a result of the great teachers who help shape our minds every day. Yet, many of these passionate individuals barely make a living wage and any raises are minimal. There is a severe teacher shortage in Florida and HB7069 fails to address this dire public concern. The bill expands the “Best and Brightest” bonus program, however those bonuses are determined by how teachers performed on their high school SAT/ACT exams – rather than their actual performance as teachers. The solution to dealing with the teacher shortages and concerns about their performance is to increase salaries and properly evaluate their teaching, so that more trained individuals can be confident that the teaching profession can offer them a successful career and a way to support their families. Teachers and their unions have spoken out against this bill. The legislation can claim that this is their attempt to bypass unions and reward teachers directly, but they fail to acknowledge that unions are the teachers – and they don’t support HB7069.

Next there is the issue of “Schools of Hope” – A plan to attract for-profit charter corporations from out of state to set up shop in neighborhoods with failing schools. Why would we want to send Florida tax revenue out of Florida? HB7069 would set the schools up in these areas and would provide them one hundred and forty million dollars in funding. These funds would be given to charter schools so they can construct schools, hire teachers, train teacher, and recruit students.

Why not simply use those funds to help established, but struggling public schools to pay for improvements, such as infrastructure, better funded after-school programs, new books or technology, and all at a lower cost than it would take to start a new charter school, which has profit as a goal. 

From personal experience, charter schools are NOT the solution to the problems in public education.

I attended International Studies Charter High school from sixth to tenth grade before transferring into School for Advanced Studies. During my time in this charter school, I observed the truth that arises from the fact that charter schools are businesses first. I saw teachers getting replaced by less experienced teachers after teaching for years simply because their salaries became too expensive; the cafeteria being turned into classrooms after lunch because the school wanted to bring in more students to increase profits; and the struggle my peers and I went through walking miles home because the state doesn’t require charter schools to provide transportation and, therefore, they did not, as it was viewed as an unnecessary expense. HB 7069 is supposed to offer hope to poor families, but poor families can’t afford transportation for school.

Poor families. These are the ones who will suffer the greatest harm from this bill. Millions of children throughout Florida and the United States are given opportunities through Title I funds in public schools. These programs provide structure to fragile schools that educate multitudes of children suffering from poverty. Under HB7069, the threshold for which schools will qualify for Title I funds would be lowered, which will result in many public schools receiving less money at the district level. This would result in the loss of millions of dollars to programs that offer a glimmer of hope to children living in the harshest conditions.  We, as fellow citizens, have an obligation to help provide children in need with the necessary resources to succeed in life.

Many kids fall behind in school, not because they don’t work hard, but due to homelessness, economic instability, or serious family issues. These children would either typically not be allowed into charter schools or would be dismissed because the cost of helping them to catch up threatens profits. With their schools deprived of the necessary funds to help them realize their potential, poor and struggling children will be left to go the underfunded public school, a block away from the new charter school. Starving neighborhood schools of needed resources so families see no options but charters is not a valid “choice.” That is the reality of the charter schools that would be funded by this bill: it is not about choice, it is about profit. 

The part of this bill that causes the most insecurity to me, as a student, and so many others is how little time was allowed  to properly debate and discuss this massive 278-page bill, a fact that caused Senator David Simmons – a Republican who favors most of the provisions in this bill – to vote against the bill. The process and little time given for the public and other senators to properly read the bill compromises the integrity of our own political process. Democracy requires adequate debate and anything less is just plain wrong.

Please do not allow the Florida legislature to deprive our already underfunded public schools of needed funding. Public schools serve 75% of all students in Florida and provides millions of poor Floridians their only chance at success. Handing over public funds to private corporations, that have not proved they are better at educating children will destroy not only public schools, but school communities. Florida has already documented tens of millions of dollars lost to charter school mismanagement and fraud, with no way to recover those losses. That’s a loss to my education and to the education of every public school student.

HB7069 has some merit to it. There are aspects to the bill that would offer recess to kids, but it also exempts charter schools from providing recess. Do charter operators not want recess for their students? Bright Futures funding was increased, but only for top performers. This will limit many students with learning disabilities from pursuing a college education. It should be increased for all students. Recess and Bright Futures come at the expense of every public school student, current and future.

I ask you respectfully, Governor Scott, please do justice by the students, teachers, and future children and educators of this beautiful and amazing state of ours and line item veto the parts of this bill that will hurt the future of millions of students and millions to come, or veto the bill so that legislators can start over. Florida can and must do better than this. We are counting on you.

Sincerely,
Jonathan Suarez, Proud student
School for Advanced Studies, MDCPS
For the latest news updates on the bill, you can search #Veto7069 on Google, Facebook and Twitter.

Why EVERYONE Should Care About The 3rd Grade Retention Lawsuit

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In our last post, I shared the background and chronology of the case to date and why it’s so very important for EVERYONE to support these families in this fight:
Clearing Hurdle 1 to Protect ALL 3rd Graders

The most recent update:
April 5: Parents continue challenge of Florida’s third-grade retention law – Tampa Bay Times

Here is even greater reason to support this cause:

16 other states also practice mandatory 3rd grade retention
http://www.ecs.org/ec-content/uploads/Third-Grade-Reading-Retention-Policies-and-Interventions_September-2016.pdf

This 2014 link contains a table with the 50 states and their policies, showing which states still practice mandatory retention, with caveats and remedies, if any: http://www.ecs.org/clearinghouse/01/16/44/11644.pdf

The states with mandatory third grade retention on the books:
AZ, AR, CA, CT, DC, FL, GA, IN, IA, MD, MS, MO, NC, OH, SC, TN

Last year, Michigan joined this dubious list.

From Monty Neill, Executive Director of FairTest: The National Center for Fair and Open Testing:

This malpractice is growing while high school exit exam scores are declining.

I had never heard this about CA, so I followed a source to national conference state legislatures: http://www.ncsl.org/research/education/third-grade-reading-legislation.aspx.

They have an interactive map in this report http://www.ncsl.org/research/education/third-grade-reading-legislation.aspx , so I clicked on CA. That took me to the CA law from 1998. Since then, the state has dropped the grade 2 test noted in the law and in ECS and NCSL. Beyond that, the CA law actually says that it is up to the districts to set up a retention policy and districts can choose between using grades and using state test scores. If the one used indicates retention, the child shall be retained “unless the pupil’s regular classroom teacher determines in writing that retention is not the appropriate intervention for the pupil’s academic deficiencies.”

So, CA does have a retention policy, but it is not so clear cut as those states that say it must be based on the state exam, never mind the few that provide no way for a teacher/school to get around the requirement.

If anyone wants to pursue their state (or another) listed as having a retention requirement and gather the details, please share them. (You may email Monty Neill at Monty@FairTest.org)

Grade retention is generally a bad educational decision, made worse when done on the basis of test scores. It would be great for test resisters to regularly raise this issue and make it an important part of the fight. A few states and districts have seen some progress, from dropping some grades with test-based grade promo policies (e.g., TX) to districts pretty much removing it (e.g., NYC, in part due to new state law). OK dropped retention from “mandated” to “allowed” due to a strong battle led by an alliance of the NEA affiliate and some civil rights and parent groups.

Monty
__________

We have met the short term fundraising goal to help the families get before the Florida Supreme Court, in order to advance their larger case. The documents are filed. There is a long road ahead. They must overturn the issue of venue before their case can even be heard in court.

If they are ultimately successful, powerful people will be unhappy. But children will be protected from harm.

So please keep giving and please keep spreading awareness of this lawsuit and fundraiser: StopGr3Retention
__________________
In a recently published longitudinal study, Dr. Kathleen Jasper tracked 23,000 students from 2003/4 to 2013/14 in a single school district in Florida.

Key points from Dr. Jasper’s study:
In a single school district over a 10 yr period COST: $587 Million
93% Remained Below Proficiency On The Grade 10 Reading FCAT
67% remained at a level one on the Grade 10 Reading FCAT.
41% of the retained students did not graduate with a standard high school diploma.
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Dr. Shane Jimerson, of the University of California – Santa Barbara is one of the most recognized experts on grade retention. He has published numerous scholarly articles related to grade retention.

Additional research and information regarding grade retention, social promotion, and effective alternatives:

Researchers, scholars, educational professionals, policymakers, and families may benefit from the research available below, recommended by Dr. Jimerson.

The following PDF files are available for you to view by clicking on the name listed below:

Synthesis of Retention Research – CSP 2001
Meta Analysis of Retention Research – SPR 2001
Characteristics & Consequences – JSP 1997
Dropout & Retention – PITS 2002
On the Failure of Failure – JSP 1999
Retention and Dropout – CSP 2002
Exploring Successful Failures – PITS 2001
Beyond Grade Retention and Social Promotion – PITS 2006

Additional reading for parents

K-2 Testing: Why Should I Opt Out?

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by Sandy Stenoff

I recently received this private message from the parent of a third grader:

“My daughter is supposed to take the SAT10 next week and I was going to opt her out but I have seen that many parents allow their children to take this exam instead of the FSA. My kid is in 1st so she doesn’t take the FSA Yet. Is the SAT10 a valid and good test ? Is it high stakes for the school or teacher ? Any help would be great.”

It would be one thing if these tests were simply one diagnostic tool among many to help inform instruction – with NO stakes attached. However, because there is no mandate for state testing for K-2, these tests are being used, primarily, to evaluate teachers.

One reason children are so ceaselessly tested is that the laws created in Tallahassee have for too long been driven by Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Florida’s Future. They are a powerful special interest group and while they control a great deal of campaign funding, they are only as powerful with our legislators as we allow them to be. The Foundation has been steadily losing credibility with legislators as year after year, they have had to “direct” testing reforms meant to “correct” prior years’ legislative reforms ad infinitum.

This is the kind of fear-based rhetoric promoted by the Foundation:

And it is baloney.

MOST concerning to parents is the fact that high stakes testing assures that districts force teaching only what is tested now, RESULTING in students NOT having the comprehensive knowledge and skills needed to successfully compete for good jobs.

As to the second statement, oft heard in schools…

If you worry about how your child will ever get into college without the SAT… DON’T.
FACT: The most elite colleges are reducing their reliance on testing for admissions criteria, because they have realized that it limits their pool of desirable applicants AND that the most reliable predictor of college success is STILL the GPA. Based on the work of FairTest, the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, nearly a thousand colleges are now “test-optional.” (See more below)

I would argue these are REAL concerns for parents of young children:

  • What is my child missing while she is made to focus on testing so much?
  • Why does my child not have at least 20 minutes of daily recess?
  • Why is my child reluctant to go to school?
  • Does my child seem overly stressed or anxious about school?
  • When was the last time my child seemed to enjoy school?
  • How much “screen time” is my child getting in school?
  • What data is being collected about my child and who has access to it?

I’m just a parent. What can I do?
Some courageous legislators have been increasingly willing to stand apart from the crowd and speak out about and stand up to the powers that be. The Foundation remains powerful, because parents, as a group have remained relatively silent, making the Foundation the loudest voice in the room. The answer for parents is to join the conversation and be heard!

Write an e-mail, even a brief one to your legislator. It makes a difference.

Beyond teacher evaluations, districts have no business piling on the testing of our youngest children simply because “they have to do it some time” or because they need  a test score to evaluate teachers. There are better ways to evaluate teachers and it’s NOT the job of our youngest children to do it for the district.

While some teachers say SAT10 is a better test than the FSA, because it can provide useful data, by testing 5 -7 yr olds for “data,” are we saying that the data is valuable at any cost?

So if it is, or if it isn’t just to evaluate teachers, does it matter to you?

On principle, if you think they shouldn’t be testing your 6 yr old, you can just opt her out. There should be no consequence for students in K-2. Further, if your child does test and fails, you will be providing the data with which to remediate or retain her, even if she is proficient and is merely a poor test-taker.

Here are a few questions I’d like my district to answer:

  • What is the purpose of this testing for my 5-8 yr old child?
  • Who, or what law mandates this test for my 6 yr old child?
  • What is the consequence, if any, if she does not take this test (or any district’s progress monitoring test)?

In this case, for first grade, a district will typically say they need an assessment to drive instruction. They even call it “data-driven instruction”. Some even think this is a selling point with parents.

From “5 Doubts About Data-Driven Schools” (NPR – June 3, 2016):

“Educational transcripts, unlike credit reports or juvenile court records, are currently considered fair game for gatekeepers like colleges and employers. These records, though, are getting much more detailed. Arguably, they more closely resemble credit reports, court records or even psychological dossiers.”

Do parents want this kind of data collected about their youngest children? And more importantly, WHO has access to it AND how is it being used?

Here is something that parents can (and should) say in great numbers to their school boards:

“This district has seen fit to hire teachers, to entrust them for 180 days per year with the daily task of educating the children, who will grow up to lead our communities. As an informed parent, I believe that my child’s teacher is the trained professional, educated and experienced in pedagogy and child development.

My child’s teachers works with her daily. My child’s teacher knows my child’s strengths as well as her areas of greatest challenge. Her teacher knows this because she is constantly assessing her by spelling tests and unit tests, by reading with her, by communicating with her and simply, but no less importantly, by observing her as she goes about her daily task of “learning.” These daily classroom assessments provide immediate and arguably, more valuable feedback than can the SAT10, IOWA or any other single standardized test administered under stressful conditions. (The FSA is arguably, the most stressful test administered to 8 yr olds. Like it or not, they ALL know what is at stake for them with this test.) There is NO single test devised that can provide similarly valuable feedback to inform my child’s instruction than the daily assessments performed by my child’s teacher throughout the school year.

Just as there is NO single test devised that can provide similarly valuable feedback to inform my child’s instruction than the daily assessments performed by my child’s teacher – no single test should be used to evaluate my child’s teacher to the extent it is currently being used.

Please stop using children to conduct the district’s adult business.”

Since so little of this data is being used to actually help your child’s education, you can think of it as your child performing free labor for the data-collectors.

Parents should understand that to the districts, to the FLDOE, and to the Florida legislature, your silence (and compliance) is understood as agreement. It is your consent. If you do not agree with state and district accountability policies, it is your parental duty to say so. On the record. The high quality education you want for your child depends on you for that.

If you’re meeting with your child’s school about opting out…
Stay calm and don’t be ruffled. Most of all, at the begining of your meeting, acknowledge that they’re just doing their job and that you respect that. And while you appreciate their concern, you are the parent and are obligated to do what you believe is in your child’s best interest. Hopefully, this will help to put them more at ease so they can sincerely listen to your concerns.

It has been our experience that schools are not deliberately misleading parents. They are often simply sharing information they receive from their districts – which we have found is often inaccurate or incomplete.  Often, asked for the source of the information, schools are unable to produce it.

So ask them for it! You will often find it does not exist.

Parents can be confident that the materials we share in The Opt Out Florida Network is primarily from the Florida Statutes, from the FLDOE, or from direct communications with school districts. All have sources cited.

Parents should feel free to print out any of the materials from the opt out guide or the pocket guide, including the portfolio checklist and instructions (for 3rd grade). The materials should help to demonstrate that you are informed and are not messing around – and hopefully, you will leave the meeting with the staff being more informed as well.

From FairTest: The National Center for Fair and Open Testing:
Click on the links below for new and updated materials that parents, teachers, students and their allies can use to battle the overuse and misuse of standardized tests.

Clearing Hurdle #1 to Protect ALL 3rd Graders

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The Bottom Line Right Up Front:
Hurdle #1: We have 2 days to help raise $1200 to get the plaintiffs to the Florida Supreme Court.
 There will be other hurdles to overcome, but they have to get over this one first. The families will cross the finish line when they prevail in court, but they’ve got to get to court. And they need YOUR help to do it. If you’d like to skip right to the donate section, scroll on down to “3 ways to donate”!

Nearly a whole school year has already passed. The parents would not allow their children to be retained and the children are either in private schools or homeschooling. The families are no longer fighting to protect their own children. This fight continues for the sake of ALL current and future third graders. Prevailing in this case will also help to chip away at both the “A+ Plan” and “school grades.”

Is there any other reason why the FLDOE and the 5 districts would have 30 (yes, thirty) attorneys working on this case against a single attorney for the plaintiffs?

Below are the key issues about the 3rd Grade Retention Lawsuit and why the families are now focused on getting their case to the Florida Supreme Court

(The chronology of this lawsuit are listed below)…

62 of the 67 Florida districts DID follow the law and promoted students by alternative assessments where it was appropriate – including a teacher-portfolio meeting state guidelines. Only the 5 districts in the lawsuit (Hernando, Orange, Osceola, Pasco and Seminole) are still insisting that in order to be promoted, they must have either a passing FSA score, or another test, which is what the parents refused, as was their right, under Florida Law.

WHAT IS AT STAKE NOW
Because the DCA ruled against plaintiffs on venue, they must now either –

a) go back to each of the 5 districts to get their case heard, or
b) ask Florida Supreme Court to overturn the ruling on venue so that the case can go back to Judge Gievers Court to be heard on the merits of the case.

If the DCA’s ruling on venue is allowed to stand, the implications go much farther than education – If individuals in multiple districts have a valid complaint against state policy, they would now be made to take it up with their local courts and would be refused the efficiency of joining each case to that of other plaintiffs experiencing the same situation in other districts.

Fragmenting the plaintiffs’ case and sending them to their local districts will break the case – AND THE DEFENSE KNOWS THIS. This could result in 5 different outcomes – which might not result in systemic change.

To date, the outstanding legal bill is in excess of $60,000. The attorney is only asking for her outstanding expenses to be covered – the $7,400 – in order for the plaintiffs to progress with the case to the Supreme Court of Florida so that the case can be heard.

From the TB Times Aug 26 article following Judge Gievers’ initial ruling FOR the plaintiffs, Judge’s ruling is a blow to Florida’s third-grade testing rules

“Gievers has yet to conduct a full trial on the parents’ over-arching complaint challenging the third-grade retention law.”

Check back for updates!

It is especially notable that SO MANY educators have donated (some regularly) to this cause. No contribution is too small. You can also help by sharing this post.

There are 3 ways to donate:
1) gofundme.com/StopGr3Retention
2) Paypal link on https://www.facebook.com/TheOptOutFloridaNetwork/
3) To avoid GoFundMe fees, you may send a check directly to the attorney for the Plaintiffs:

The Law Office of Andrea Flynn Mogensen, P.A.
200 South Washington Boulevard, Suite 7
Sarasota, FL 34236

Please note on your check: “Third Grade Florida Supreme Court” and please notify us at TheOptOutFLNetwork@gmail.com

Once we meet this urgent goal, please continue to give generously. There are already other hurdles (legal fees) still to clear.

Thank you VERY MUCH for your support! It is greatly appreciated.

_______________________________________
The Chronology (click on links to articles for details):
July 18 2016: Group seeks support to fight Florida’s third-grade retention law

Tampa Bay Times: 
“”Courageous parents have refused all further testing for purposes of promotion,” according to the Opt Out Florida Network, which is supporting the effort. “They are demanding that their children be promoted based on the work they did all year long, evidenced by satisfactory report cards or actual portfolios of their children’s work (which includes tests done in school) – a more thorough and rigorous evaluation than any single test could possibly be.”

The families have talked with lawyers, and are aiming to get the courts to find the retention law unconstitutional and unenforceable.

If successful, their effort could have widespread effect. Florida’s third-grade retention law has been replicated (in various forms in 15 other states) throughout the country as other states seek to hold schools accountable for student learning.”

Aug 10 2016: The suit is filed in Leon County, where the FLDOE is located.
Aug 2016: Parents file motion for emergency injunctive relief as school year began.
Aug 12 2017: Parents have their first “day in court” – Parents sue when third-grade honors students are not promoted to fourth grade
Aug 26 2016: Favorable outcomes – Judge blasts state, local schools in 3rd-grade retention case
Aug 26 2016:  Judge’s ruling is a blow to Florida’s third-grade testing rules
Aug 29 2016: Judge rules. Plaintiffs prevail, mostly – Judge issues mixed ruling on Florida’s third-grade retention law (Judge Gievers rules overwhelmingly for plaintiffs – orders districts to promote and to use portfolios as parents requested. Says they met minimum requirements for “participation” in testing.)
Aug 29 2016: And yet… Kids who defied Florida’s third-grade testing rules hit roadblocks as they return to school
Aug 30 2017: (Districts) appeal third-grade retention ruling
Sep 2 2016: Editorial: Hernando school district loses lawsuit, punishes kids

Sep 2, 2017: ABC7 Editorial (VIDEO): “Civil disobedience is democracy’s way of saying enough is enough.”
Dec 29 2016: Florida lawmaker files bill to clarify third-grade retention rules
Jan 7, 2017: DCA agree to hear oral arguments on venue.
Feb 7, 2017: District Court of Appeals hears oral arguments – where plaintiffs’ lawyer is prevented from arguing her case, having to contend with off-topic questions and statements from the bench.
Mar 7 2017: District Court of Appeals rules against parents for FLDOE and districts on venue – only.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The DCA ruling on venue does not overturn the merits of Judge Gievers’ ruling – but parents must now seek to overturn the DCA ruling on venue in the Florida Supreme Court… or take it up with their local school districts.

Life Under Florida’s 3rd Grade Mandatory Retention Regime. Tell your stories!

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In spite of decades of reliable research that mandatory third grade retention borders on education malpractice, Florida remains one of just 14 states still practicing mandatory third grade retention as a consequence of failing a single test, even for proficient readers. Your help is needed to get this bad law off the books so that schools can more effectively meet children’s real educational needs.

At 4:00PM on Tuesday, March 21, Florida’s Senate Education Committee will workshop a series of proposed bills. Among them will be SB1280. This bill is proposed by Sen. Jose Javier Rodriquez (companion HB131, Rep. John Cortes) and would remove mandatory 3rd grade retention from Florida statutes. You can read the full text of SB1280/HB131 here.

SB1280/HB131:

“Mandatory Retention; Removing the requirement for mandatory retention of a third grade student based on his or her performance on the English Language Arts assessment, etc.”

YOUR MOST URGENT ACTION IS REQUIRED   
Laura Jimenez, Legislative Assistant to Sen. Rodriquez is asking for input from families on how current law has impacted their children in the third grade. It is imperative that they hear from families who have been affected by mandatory third grade retention. Please share your personal stories and why you would support SB1280 to remove this punitive practice. Please send the facts of your 8-yr old children’s experience in school, under the year-long threat of mandatory retention.

We hope that educators will also share their professional input with legislators as to how this law has affected their students.

REALITY-CHECK: Parents must proactively un-stack the deck!
In the COMMITTEE MEETING EXPANDED AGENDA, there are 17 separate bills being discussed and SB1280 is the last agenda item. We anticipate that few may be allowed to give public comments. Therefore, it is IMPERATIVE that you email your personal stories to the committee this weekend. It will be interesting to see who is allowed to comment.

This is a critical request for action. It’s not just the children who face retention who are affected by this law. Mandatory 3rd Grade Retention is the muscle behind the Jeb Bush’s A+ Plan. ALL children in school today are affected by it. Do all parents understand that? 

If your child is now past the third grade, this is your opportunity to share your children’s stories of public shaming, humiliation, unnecessary retention and remediation, bullying and intimidation and most importantly, education malpractice as a result of this poor law, which does little to genuinely help children and punishes them for failing a single test.

Action must be taken by noon, Monday March 20th to give staff time to compile them to use as an introduction to SB1280 when it comes up for discussion. Plaintiffs from the Third Grade Retention Lawsuit are working on a statement to be read on their behalf, and public participation here is crucial.

Please attach any study (see links below) disputing the benefit of grade retention, such as the recently published longitudinal study conducted by Dr. Kathleen Jasper which tracked 23,000 students from 2003/4 to 2013/14 in a single school district in Florida.

Key points from Dr. Jasper’s study:
In a single school district over a 10 yr period COST: $587 Million
93% Remained Below Proficiency On The Grade 10 Reading FCAT
67% remained at a level one on the Grade 10 Reading FCAT.
41% of the retained students did not graduate with a standard high school diploma.

Send your e-mail to Laura Jimenez and the Senate Education Committee today and ALSO give the committee a call on Monday.

Subject line:
SB1280: 3RD Grade Retention Story

jimenez.laura@flsenate.gov

Chairman Sen. Dorothy Hukill ( R )
hukill.dorothy@flsenate.gov
(850) 487-5014
Vice-Chairman Sen. Debbie Mayfield ( R )
mayfield.debbie@flsenate.gov
(850) 487-5017
Members:
Sen. Gary Farmer ( D )
farmer.gary@flsenate.gov
(850) 487-5034
Sen. Bill Galvano ( R )
galvano.bill@flsenate.gov
(850) 487-5021
Sen. Tom Lee ( R )
lee.tom@flsenate.gov
(850) 487-5020
Sen. David Simmons ( R )
simmons.david@flsenate.gov
(850) 487-5009
Sen. Wilton Simpson ( R )
simpson.wilton@flsenate.gov
(850) 487-5010
Sen. Linda Stewart ( D )
stewart.linda@flsenate.gov
(850) 487-5013
Sen. Perry Thurston ( D )
thurston.perry@flsenate.gov
(850) 487-5033

Please check for updates next week at The Opt Out Florida Network. We will post the link to the Florida Channel‘s Live-Streaming of this workshop and will host live discussion.

To help our elected officials to better understand the damaging effects of grade retention, below are links to notable research on the practice of third grade retention that you can share with them. You should be able to copy/paste them directly into your e-mail.

Dr. Shane Jimerson, of the University of California – Santa Barbara is one of the most recognized experts on grade retention. He has published numerous scholarly articles related to grade retention.

Additional research and information regarding grade retention, social promotion, and effective alternatives:

Researchers, scholars, educational professionals, policymakers, and families may benefit from the research available below, recommended by Dr. Jimerson.

The following PDF files are available for you to view by clicking on the name listed below:

Synthesis of Retention Research – CSP 2001
Meta Analysis of Retention Research – SPR 2001
Characteristics & Consequences – JSP 1997
Dropout & Retention – PITS 2002
On the Failure of Failure – JSP 1999
Retention and Dropout – CSP 2002
Exploring Successful Failures – PITS 2001
Beyond Grade Retention and Social Promotion – PITS 2006

Additional reading for parents

 

2016-2017 Opt Out Guides are here!

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They’re here, folks!

Complete Opt Out Guide for 2016-2017

TOPICS COVERED
Steps to Opt Out

Refusing a Paper Based Test
Refusing a Computer Based Test
What do we know about NR2 and NT codes?
Emails from FLDOE RE: NR2/NT scores

Alternative Assessment
Resources
Third Grade Resources
Test Questions Every Parent Needs To Ask
State of Florida Testing Calendar
Schedule to Transition to Computer Based Testing

Pocket Opt Out Guide for 2016-2017 – the print-and-share version of the complete guide.

Read it. Find your local group, connect with your opt out community and let’s grow this movement.

It’s hard to believe, but there are still parents out there who don’t know that they can opt out of the tests.

Knowledge is power. The more parents are informed, the more powerful we ALL can be!
Would you print just five or ten copies of this Pocket Opt Out Guide and share in your travels?

Please FOLLOW and keep checking back on this site for more info to help your kids to opt out successfully and to keep you going strong. Thank you for joining us in this fight for kids and our public schools.

All of this information may be wonderful for you, but it’s POWERFUL when it’s shared!

IMPORTANT RESOURCES to keep you informed. SHARE.
* Comprehensive 2016-2017 Opt Out Guide: bit.ly/OptOutGuide1617
* Pocket Opt Out Guide 2016-2017: bit.ly/1617PocketGuide
* Opt Out Third Grade 101: bit.ly/OO3rdGrade101
* Navigating Gr 3 Retention Threat: bit.ly/Gr3RetentionThreat
* VIDEO How To Opt Out of Computer Test: bit.ly/OptOutDemo2016
* What Does This Bully Letter Really Mean?: bit.ly/igotabullyletter
* It’s going to be Oh-Kaaayyy. Really: bit.ly/OptOutisOK
* Special Opt Out group for Third Grade here: bit.ly/OOFL3rd
* Find your local Opt Out group: bit.ly/LocalOptOutGroups
* 8 Yr Old Talks Test Prep: bit.ly/8YOTalksTestPrep

Remember… if this was easy, it wouldn’t be called a struggle.
#OptOut2017

Kathleen Jasper, EdD: Why we should IMMEDIATELY stop retaining 3rd graders

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by Sandy Stenoff

This week, Educator Kathleen Jasper, Ed.D. published her doctoral dissertation for Florida Gulf Coast University, “THE EFFECTS OF MANDATED THIRD GRADE RETENTION ON STANDARD DIPLOMA ACQUISITION AND STUDENT OUTCOMES: A POLICY ANALYSIS OF FLORIDA’S A+ PLAN” adding credibility to what many experts have stated for decades – that third grade retention does not work, is harmful to children and is a financial burden, both on the victims of Florida’s failed accountability system, as well as on this state.

Jasper’s dissertation is an indictment of Jeb Bush’s hallmark education legislation, “Florida’s A+ Plan”, which has become the fulcrum about which Florida’s convoluted accountability system pivots. The Big Daddy of high stakes – school grades – rests on the state’s authority to retain third grade children in order to artificially bolster test scores in the 4th grade. Even if retained children, in the short-term, are shown to perform better on testing in the 4th grade, the data show that the benefits diminish over the long-term. By the numbers – this research shows that children retained in the third grade ultimately fare worse throughout their education and even later on in life.

School grades holds sway over teachers’ livelihoods and professional ethics. They hold public education hostage by the state’s preferred tools of educational torture for teachers and children alike – rigid pacing guides, scripted curricula (test prep) and the almighty test. Under the state’s thumb of school grades, the districts’ moral duty to the real education of young children may be crushed. Collateral damage.

In the protection racket called “school grades”, the heaviest weapon in the reformsters’ arsenal is the reality that is Third Grade Retention.

The FLDOE consistently cites one study (Green and Winters, 2006). Kathleen Jasper’s study shows that the Greene and Winters study did not go far enough, and that in the end, Greene inflated the success of the A+ Plan.

Following last week’s celebrated rhetoric in Tallahassee, if legislators really want meaningful accountability and value their reputations and credibility,  they CANNOT ignore these important findings. They must acknowledge the implications of their decisions on the lives of children as we proceed through the current legislative session.

These research findings should be shared with every parent, public school teacher, policy-maker and legislator in Florida and beyond.

Kathleen Jasper’s executive summary is shared here with permission:

3rd Grade Retentions
In 2003-2004, across Florida, over 23,000 3rd grade students were retained in accordance with the retention mandate in Florida’s A+ Plan. In some Miami—Dade Public Schools, 50% of third graders were retained.

Did students catch up?
In a study of third graders in Southwest Florida, 93% of the retained group in the study remained below a level 3 on the Grade 10 Reading FCAT. In addition, 67% remained at a level one on the Grade 10 Reading FCAT. Further, 41% of the retained students did not graduate with a standard high school diploma.

What did it cost?
Between 2003-2013, it cost Florida tax payers approximately $587 million FTE funding for the retained students.

Standard Diploma Acquisition
The non-retained group were 14.7% more likely to graduate with a standard diploma than the retained group.

Retention Demographics
Approximately 6% of white students were retained while 20% of nonwhite students were retained. Of the students retained in 2003-2004, 69.8% were on free or reduced price lunch.

Significance
There was a statistically significant difference between retained students and non- retained students regarding Grade 10 Reading FCAT mean scale scores (.000). There was also a statistically significant difference between ethnicity and Grade 10 Reading FCAT scores (.003).

RESEARCH QUESTIONS

1. How did state-mandated third grade retention policies, under the A+ Plan, impact standard diploma acquisition in retained students as compared to academically similar non-retained students?

✦ Students who were not retained were 14.7% more likely to receive a standard high school diploma. How did the retained group compare to the similar non-retained group on the Grade 10 FCAT Reading?

2. How did the retained group compare to the similar non-retained group on the Grade 10 FCAT Reading?
✦ Both groups had difficulty catching up. In the retained group, 93% remained below proficient into their 10th grade year. In the non-retained group, 85.8% remained below proficient.

3.How did socioeconomic status and ethnicity impact retention rates of certain groups?
✦ Students of color and students from low socioeconomic backgrounds were more likely to be retained than white students and students who were not from low socioeconomic backgrounds.

4. Based on the data, what was extrapolated, in terms of economic outcomes, when evaluating consequences of students who were unable to acquire a standard high school diploma as a result of the A+ Plan?
✦ The district spent $587 million on FTE for retentions between 2003-2013.
✦ The total difference in combined loss in earnings was approximately $141 million per year.

Summary of the Research
In a study of first, third, and sixth graders, researchers asked students to rate a list of 20 stressful life events based on level. Researchers found students, across grade levels, rated the top three stressful life events in this order: losing a parent, going blind, and being retained in school (Anderson, Jimerson, and Whipple 2005; Andrew, 2014). Sixth grade students rated grade retention as the most stressful life event, rating retention more stressful than losing a parent or going blind. (Anderson, Jimerson, and Whipple 2005).

Researchers in other studies found students who were retained faced difficulty in catching up to their peers, achieving academically, and obtaining a high school diploma (Anderson, Jimerson, & Whipple, 2005; Andrew, 2014; Fine & Davis, 2003; Jimerson, 1999; Moser, West & Hughes, 2012; Nagaoka, 2005; and Ou & Reynolds, 2010).

However, in 2003-2004 approximately 23,000 third graders were retained in Florida under the third grade retention mandate outlined in the A+ Plan. This was an effort to increase student achievement by increasing the use of accountability measures.

The current study includes an examination of educational outcomes of students retained in a large southwest Florida school district under the A+ Plan in 2003-2004. Researchers used a match control group, consisting of similarly non-retained students, who scored at level one on the Grade 3 Reading FCAT. The control group was compared to the retained group. Also compared were student achievement levels on the Grade 10 Reading FCAT of the retained and non-retained group. This provided longitudinal data to examine whether or not students who were retained increased their reading achievement over time.

Longitudinal data was evaluated for both the retained and non- retained students. Researchers found 93% of the retained students continued to score below proficiency (below a level 3) seven years after retention on the Grade 10 Reading FCAT as compared with the 85.8% of the non-retained students. See chart below.

Grade 10 Reading FCAT Scores: 7 Years after Retention

Economic Outcomes
Economic outcomes were extrapolated using the data from this study and the data from previous economic studies. If the averages used in this study were applied to the 23,348 retained students in 2003-2004, 41% of the 23,348, did not graduate with a standard diploma; approximately 13,730 did not receive a standard high school diploma. These students’ failure to receive a standard diploma resulted in loss of wages. After evaluating the 13,730 who did not receive a standard diploma and using the 2010 U.S. Census employment by education level data, researchers found Florida students earned 33% less than they would have if they had obtained a high school diploma. The total difference in total combined loss in earnings was approximately $141 million per year.

COST: $587 MILLION

RESULT: 93% REMAINED BELOW PROFICIENCY ON THE GRADE 10 READING FCAT.

If you would like to read the executive summary or the full study, click the titles below:

Executive summary (Short Version) 

Full Dissertation: THE EFFECTS OF MANDATED THIRD GRADE RETENTION ON STANDARD DIPLOMA ACQUISITION AND STUDENT OUTCOMES: A POLICY ANALYSIS OF FLORIDA’S A+ PLAN


Kathleen Jasper, Ed.D. has been an educator for over 10 years. Starting as a high school classroom teacher (Biology, Reading and English), she later became a curriculum specialist, working on academic plans, professional development and assessment. In 2011, she became an assistant principal at Estero High School in Lee County. She began her doctoral work at that time and resigned from the district to do research and work on policy-making in order to effect greater change in the public school system. Currently, she is an adjunct professor in the College of Education at Florida Gulf Coast University. She is also the founder and CEO of NavaED, an education consulting company. 

Kathleen’s Certifications: Elementary Eduction, Biology 6-12, English 6-12, Reading, ESOL, Educational Leadership

Kathleen Jasper Ed.D. | CEO – NavaED
@KathleenJasper | www.facebook.com/NavaEDFL 

1/7/17 UPDATE – 3rd Grade Lawsuit

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In a Dec 28 update from Andrea Mogensen, Attorney for the plaintiffs:

“Oral argument has been granted. It is scheduled for February 7th at 9 a.m. in the First District Court of Appeals in Tallahassee. Not every case that’s up on appeal is granted oral argument. This case, I am sure, was granted an argument because of its importance.

This is good news, because the case is being giving the weight it deserves.

Most appeals are decided just on the briefs that are submitted. Oral argument is where the attorneys appear and are questioned by Justices of the District Court of Appeals. Judges don’t necessarily ask questions but each party will be given 30 mins to present their argument.

The court will not make its decision at the hearing. It will make its decision in writing sometime thereafter, and there is no way to tell how long it will take after the oral argument is heard for the high court to rule. However, for oral argument this is being set rather quickly.

These court proceedings will be open to the public and will be streamed live on the Florida Channel.”

It will also be streamed live at The First District Court of Appeal’s website.

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With the exception of Andrea Mogensen, who represents the plaintiffs, the rest of the names on the list above represent the THIRTY-ONE (yes, 31) attorneys for the FLDOE and the five school districts defending this lawsuit – Hernando, Pasco, Orange, Osceola and Seminole.

Everyone should be asking – What is the cost to taxpayers for the state and districts to fight a judge’s lawful court order?

Things have been quiet as we have all waited for the suit to proceed. We remain especially grateful to the plaintiff families and their attorneys still embroiled in this lawsuit, fighting mandatory retention in Hernando, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, and Pasco Counties.

In this Florida Channel video – 12/7/16 House “Legislator University” Training: An Overview of School Accountability at about the 25:30 mark, Florida House Rep. Wengay Newton asks for confirmation that all the children retained had been promoted. The correct answer, Sir, is NO, they have not. Since Judge Gievers’ ruling on September 26, only the children from Sarasota and Broward Counties were promoted when their families agreed to withdraw from the suit.

So where are the children?

From August through November, one child from Seminole County, gifted and documented as reading above the 7th grade level LAST YEAR, was forced to repeat the 3rd grade in Seminole County. She is now enrolled in a private school. So that they would not be subjected to the psychological and emotional harm of having to repeat a year of 3rd grade work unnecessarily, the rest of the children are now all being either homeschooled, or enrolled in private schools at considerable expense.

We eagerly await the ruling of the Appellate Court so that the lawsuit can proceed in earnest. We remain hopeful for systemic change.

In the meantime, please continue to support the effort to make #180DaysCount with your generous donation to the legal fund: https://www.gofundme.com/StopGr3Retention

Recommended reading: 
Tampa Bay Times – 12/29/16:
Florida lawmaker files bill to clarify third-grade retention rules

Previous updates:
https://theoptoutfloridanetwork.wordpress.com/2016/10/22/mom-in-3rd-grade-lawsuit-addresses-seminole-school-board/

https://theoptoutfloridanetwork.wordpress.com/2016/09/04/904-update-3rd-grade-lawsuit/

https://theoptoutfloridanetwork.wordpress.com/2016/08/10/lawsuit-to-make-180dayscount-is-filed/

https://theoptoutfloridanetwork.wordpress.com/2016/07/20/720-update-3rd-grade-lawsuit/