, , , , , ,

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

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:

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.


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.
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