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Solidarity w 3rd Grade

Amazing families across Florida are standing up for the rights of all children. Awareness is growing… rapidly now. Communities are organizing to support the children and their families, who are in their district’s retention crosshairs.

Many eight year old children, whose parents opted them out of the spring FSA, are being threatened with retention by their schools and districts, simply because they have no test score. Officially. In writing.

This is happening, even as the schools admit that these children have no documented reading deficiencies. Some are reading years ahead of grade level. This is happening even though Florida Statutes says
FSA not sole promoter

The parents are standing strong and insisting that their children be promoted based on 180 days of real work with their real teachers – minus all the days of test prep, of course.

Seminole County parent, Gabi Weaver, whose daughter reads at an eighth grade level says,

“I could let her take the alternative assessment, but if we don’t fix this now, I’m going to have to do this again for my other kids next year and the next. It needs to stop, not just for my kids, but for all kids.”

Here is a beautiful, strong example that others can follow…

Maggie Finley’s son attends Audubon Elementary School in Orange County.  She sent this letter to the testing coordinator, who currently maintains that Maggie’s son will be retained, in spite of having no documented reading deficiency. 


Hello S.,

– I received your voicemail and although I left a voicemail for you as well, I figured it’s best to put this in writing.

My son does not need a “Good Cause Exemption” because that section of the statute falls under the heading of “Reading Deficiency and Parental Notification”. Since that seems to be a sticking point, I am going to spell it out here:

Laws are written in an outline format. The subsections refer to the sections they fall under. Not other sections, unless specifically spelled out otherwise. They are done this way to reduce confusion.

My son does not have a documented reading deficiency. At all. His last SRI score was (from what I recall) 794. He is in a gifted classroom and despite it being his first year in a more challenging environment, he has made all As and Bs all year, in every subject. His teacher has expressed ZERO doubts about his ability to promote to 4th grade- for any reason. She is a fully qualified, excellent teacher. I trust her teaching and evaluations far more than I would trust any one test to determine my child’s mastery of 3rd grade material.

I want to be crystal clear about this. He has EARNED his promotion to 4th grade based on his work all year. If you can’t promote a child based on his work throughout the year in the classroom, then, may I ask, why are you even putting them in a classroom? If all you care about is this test, then why have children come to school at all? What does it matter if you have the best and brightest teachers, if you do not trust them to effectively evaluate the children in their classroom?

This Good Cause Exemption that keeps getting thrown at me? It was added in there to assist children would not otherwise be a candidate for promotion. It’s a way to throw a life preserver to a child who is drowning. It is meant to give a step up to the children who are struggling. THIS IS NOT MY CHILD.

I’d like to know your “Good Cause” for retaining him? Or even threatening retention? Any reason at all, other than “he doesn’t have a score on one test”.

For hundreds of years, we have promoted children based on their work throughout the year. How does a third grader magically not have that same standard? Because you misinterpret a law? No. He is going to be promoted to 4th grade. And not because I am pushy, and not because you “gave in”, but because he EARNED it via the work he has done all year in class.

Maggie Finley


We couldn’t have said it better, Maggie!

Solidarity, parents!  We stand with you.

The Opt Out Florida Network



Please check The Opt Out Florida Network and your local Opt Out group: http://bit.ly/LocalOptOutGroups for actions being organized.

Get informed and organize with us as we prepare for next year!
* Special Opt Out group for Third Grade here: http://bit.ly/OOFL3rd

For notable research on the practice of third grade retention, please see
Is Opting Out of SAT10 the Game-Changer for Third Grade?

If you have already been told that your child will be retained, or is at risk of retention, please read Opt Out Third Grade 101 in its entirety.

* Navigating the Threat of 3rd Gr Retention: http://bit.ly/Gr3RetentionThreat