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by Sandy Stenoff

Teachers’ comment after release of 3rd Grade FSA scores

PARENTS, if your child failed the FSA and you’ve just found the Opt Out network and haven’t read anything about this until now… it will be up to YOU to fight retention.  You can.

Get out your highlighter… You have some reading to do. 

This is the guiding document from the Florida Department of Education for promotion or for fighting retention:

Link: 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 Good Cause Exemption. 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. 
  • If you have received a retention notice, this is the document to guide your actions toward promotion. USE IT. Print it out and share it with the school. They’ve probably never seen it.
  • Please read it from beginning to end.
  • PRINT THIS DOCUMENT AND TAKE IT TO YOUR MEETING AT SCHOOL. Use it in discussing anything to do with third grade right now.
  • Also find your current district Student Progression Plan.
    It’s on the internet. The whole progression plan could be more than 100 pages, so locate and print just the section on Third Grade promotion, retention and Good Cause Exemptions. Take this to your meeting as well. 
  • These documents should be required reading for every third grade teacher and elementary school principal. It’s unacceptable if they don’t know. Parents should not have to provide this info to schools. But if they do, it’s here.

READ THIS: Opting Out Of The Third Grade FSA
Shareable link: http://bit.ly/3rdGradeOptOut

AND THIS: Third Grade Opt Out Toolbox
Shareable link: http://bit.ly/Gr3OptOutToolbox

Read the various sections on Portfolio and “Navigating the Threat of Retention.” There’s a LOT of information and you may be overwhelmed, especially if you’ve just found us. Read it all.

No school has an incentive to retain a child, especially one who is not deficient. Most kids will get through this with a Good Cause Exemption. You’re getting mandatory notifications from school now. They are covering their butts. AND YOUR KID’S. SO WORK WITH THEM. NICELY.

That said, YOU have options:

Send an email today to your principal:

“In response to this notice about possible retention, I am requesting a copy of (Name)’s complete academic record, to include all assessments done with results for this school year.

Does (name) have a documented reading deficiency and if so, what is the specific basis for that determination? Because of the timeframe, please provide the copies on Tuesday, so that I can review them before the last day of school, Wednesday.

Thank you in advance for your kind assistance.

To compile a portfolio, collect all of your child’s work from the school year and organize it by date order in a 3-ring binder, separated by subject – Math, Language Arts, Science and Social Studies. Science and Social Studies can be used to cover the non-fiction reading requirements.

IF you have enough of your child’s classwork to show that he passed the required standards, you may be able to compile a portfolio that can be certified by a teacher or principal as meeting the required standards for promotion to 4th grade.

The requirements are specific:
Third Grade Portfolio Instructions 
Third Grade Portfolio Checklist  – Working Document (updated 8/22/18)
Promoted to 4th Grade Without a Test Score – a teacher’s account of his own child’s opt out and promotion.

If the school or the district refuse to assess your child’s portfolio, you can withdraw your child from school, register him as a home school student, get his student portfolio of classwork certified as passing by a certified teacher and re-enroll in 4th grade. If not… keep reading. 

(NOTE: if your child is in a charter school or a magnet outside of your school zone, your child could lose their place if you withdraw him/her.)

You also COULD try to push the district to promote based on the report card – which the Florida Statute allows …

But THAT would require you suing the district to comply. Can you say “attorney fees”?

State-approved list of alternative assessments. Student must pass just one assessment to earn a Good Cause Exemption for promotion to the 4th grade.

From the list above, some districts allow the use of any of the assessments listed. Other districts limit which assessments may be used. This should be listed on the district’s current Student Progression Plan (SPP), searchable on the internet.

Most teachers like the SAT10, because it accurately represents the standards taught and does not include trick questions and test distractors. It’s a good, fair assessment with shorter reading passages, more age-appropriate vocabulary and most kids do well on it.

IF you request the SAT10 and your district won’t administer it, you can ask HOW they would accept it from an outside testing company. Hernando County accepts SAT10 results from an outside testing company. Here is a letter that you can share with your school:

Hernando County Schools letter about SAT10

If a student needs some time to prepare for the SAT10, parents can order the workbook online, or they can help their child online.
You can check out the SAT10 here: www.setontesting.com

Some helpful information from teachers:

Some schools are telling parents that they can only administer the SAT10 AFTER summer school. The State does not require summer school before the SAT10 may be administered. So if parents want the SAT10, they will have to ask the school or district to show where it is written that they must complete summer school first.

There are some students, who would benefit from summer school before going on to 4th grade. Some programs are terrific, with low student:teacher ratios and fun built in. Hopefully they’ll even get to read some real books!

There are kids who would be better off going to 4th grade and getting the appropriate support then. 

There are also kids who can read just fine and just need to pass a test to satisfy the system.

But seriously. They don’t call it summer SCHOOL for nothing. It’s still MORE SCHOOL, with the specific purpose of getting them ready to pass yet one more test. If their reading skills improve as well, we’ll call that a freebie.

Please read:
Retained? You can go to 4th grade… sort of…maybe.

Parents need to do what is best for their child, but they need to be fully informed in order to know what they can and cannot ask for.

If the school isn’t going to help them to be informed, then for the sake of their child, they will need to do it for themselves.