Education

Manatee stays steadfast in refusing to promote 3rd-grade students without standardized test score

Parents, district differ on third-grade promotion requirements

Bradenton Herald education reporter Meghin Delaney discusses the newest issue arising out of the opt out movement, with parents and districts struggling over how to promote students to fourth grade without a state-mandated test score.
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Bradenton Herald education reporter Meghin Delaney discusses the newest issue arising out of the opt out movement, with parents and districts struggling over how to promote students to fourth grade without a state-mandated test score.

Despite what other districts are doing, Manatee County School District is staying steadfast, saying a portfolio is only an option to promote a third-grade student to fourth-grade if the student has taken the FSA or a state-approved alternative standardized test first.

After seeing reports that other districts in the state are creating portfolios of work for students who “opted out” of state-mandated tests to promote the students to the next grade, Manatee County Superintendent Diana Greene emailed State Department of Education officials looking for clarification.

“We will do everything that we possibly can to ensure promotion, but we do have to adhere to the guidelines, and they did reinforce our interpretation today,” Deputy Superintendent of Instruction Cynthia Saunders said Friday, referring to the email.

In Manatee, if a student refuses to take the FSA exam and if the student refuses to take the state-approved SAT 10 exam, the student is not eligible to have a portfolio of worked created to prove the student is capable of moving on to the fourth-grade.

That means the student will have to repeat the third grade if they refuse to take the SAT 10 the district is offering on June 1. Thirty-one students in Manatee didn’t take the FSA, either because they chose to opt out or because they were absent. Some parents are opting out to send a message to the state that the testing in the state has gotten out of control.

If those 31 students don’t take the SAT 10, the district will make them repeat the third-grade, officials said earlier this week.

That’s different than how some other districts are handling the situation. Other districts are allowing students to have portfolios made to show their ability. The district maintains the state does not allow districts to go to the portfolio option unless the student has a test score first.

We cannot promote a child based solely on the teacher’s report card in third grade.

Cynthia Saunders, deputy superintendent of instruction

“My conversation with DOE was very to the point, ‘Why are we following the law and other Districts are not? Based on our conversation it seems DOE will follow-up and investigate the other Districts who might not be in compliance,” Greene wrote in an email to the school board that was forwarded to the Bradenton Herald.

The email to Greene from the state reiterates the state’s position that participation in the test is mandatory. It also “suggests” policy for any student who does not follow this law, according to the email forwarded to the Herald.

Manatee County’s student progression plan has the state statute copied and pasted into it, Saunders said. The statute has been in place since 2003, and the district has followed the statute since then, she said.

“The only thing that’s changed has been the state assessment but the rule has been the same rule. And that statute is the same statute,” Saunders said.

Next year, the district may choose to update the student progression plan to spell out the statute and the interpretation more clearly to avoid parent concern, Saunders said.

“We cannot promote a child based solely on the teacher’s report card in third grade,” Saunders said.

Meghin Delaney: 941-745-7081, @MeghinDelaney

From the state

Below is the text of an email sent to Diana Greene from state officials on Friday morning.

“Can a 3rd grade student be promoted if the student does not have a documented reading deficiency, has not taken the FSA, has not taken a state approved alternative standardized assessment, has not engaged in a Portfolio assessment, and does not qualify for other Good Cause exemptions?”

Florida law, Section 1008.22 (3)…..Participation in the assessment program is mandatory for all school districts and all students attending public schools,…”

Again, we suggest policy defined in the student progression plan that defines actions that are taken for any student who does not follow this law.

Promotion requirements for third grade students:

1– The requirement in Section 1008.25(5)(b) To be promoted to grade 4, a students must score a Level 2 or higher on the statewide, standardized English Language Arts assessment required under s. 1008.22.

2. An additional option approved by the State Board of Education includes: Rule 6A-1.094221 (a) Scores at or above the 45th percentile on the Reading SAT-10.

Section 1008.25 (6)(b) The district school board may only exempt students from mandatory retention , as provided in paragraph (5)(b), for good cause.

(6)(b)3. Students who demonstrate an acceptable level of performance on an alternative standardized reading or English Language Arts assessment approved by the State Board of Education.

A student can participate in reading camp – and be promoted through evidence in a portfolio developed during reading camp or a defined score on an alternate assessment.

Or the student can be given the alternate assessment now or upon entry into third grade again next year and be promoted to 4th within next year’s school year if a defined score on an alternate assessment is met.

There are no other options approved in state law or rule for this student.

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