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by Sandy Stenoff

The links below contain important resources for opting out of the Third Grade FSA and for working with your child’s school to ensure a Good Cause Exemption for promotion to the Fourth Grade.

Parents can absolutely opt out of the FSA, but Third Grade parents MUST make sure to communicate with the school to ensure that there will be a Good Cause Exemption in place for promotion.

If you have received a retention notice, all of this same information can be used for promotion. It will be up to YOU to push for it and to fight the retention.

Third Grade Opt Out Tools  (Last updated 5/22/18)

This is the guiding document for promotion or fighting retention
FLDOE – Promotion to Grade 4 Technical Assistance Paper (TAP) – 10/27/17

  • EVERY third grade parent should familiarize themselves with this document and work through it with the teacher and school to develop a teacher-created portfolio, NOT the portfolio of FORTY-TWO mini-tests, or test bank questions. This is the most current FLDOE Technical Assistance Paper (TAP) on promotion to 4th grade. It spells out the approved alternative assessments and scores required for a Good Cause Exemption. Please read from beginning to end.
  • If you have received a retention notice, this is the document to guide your actions toward promotion. USE IT. Share it with the school. They’ve probably never seen it. 

One thing missing from this TAP that was on the previous TAP (2014) is the statement
“A parent of a student in grade 3 who is identified anytime during the school year as being at risk of retention may request that the school immediately begin collecting evidence for the portfolio.”

Doesn’t matter. It’s in the Florida Statute. The law says parents can request a real portfolio. AT ANY TIME.
Opting Out Of The Third Grade FSA
Sample Opt Out Letters
Navigating the Threat of Third Grade Retention
Opt Out Third Grade 101
– My Child Failed the FSA… Now what?

Promoted to 4th Grade Without a Test Score – a teacher’s account of his own child’s opt out and promotion
“Retained? You can go to 4th grade… sort of…maybe.”
What is a TRUE Portfolio… and how do I get one?
Statutory Third Grade Portfolio Checklist *
– Student Portfolio Puts Assessment Where It Belongs… With Teachers
Third Grade Portfolio Checklist * – Working Document (updated 8/22/18)
Third Grade Portfolio Instructions *
– 10 Strategies to Fight Mandatory Retention by Suzanne Whitney, Research Editor, Wrightslaw
– Special Opt Out group for Third Grade Parents – for help, peer support and strategies to find fair and useful assessment for promotion

* MOST IMPORTANT DOCS (but please read ALL)

Helping younger kids to understand why you choose to opt out
– 8 Yr Old Talks Test Prep
– If I Didn’t Opt Out, I’d Be A Liar

Notable research on the practice of third grade retention:

  1. The Effects Of Mandated Third Grade Retention On Standard Diploma Acquisition And Student Outcomes: A Policy Analysis Of Florida’s A+ Plan by K. Jasper, EdD
  2. Grade Retention – Info for Parents by Jimerson, PhD
  3. Grade Retention – Guide for Parents by Jimerson, PhD
  4. Grade Retention & Promotion- Guide for Educators by Jimerson Renshaw Skokut
  5. Grade Retention – Fact sheet by Jimerson, PhD
  6. Grade Retention’s Negative Effects – Ineffective and possibly harmful
  7. Alternatives to grade retention- Jimerson Pletcher Kerr
  8. 10 Strategies to Fight Mandatory Retention – by Sue Whitney for Wrightslaw
  9. New Research Suggests Repeating Elementary Grades – even Kindergarten – is Harmful