Parents suing over Florida's FSA reading retention law

A group of parents across Florida, including some in the Tamp Bay area and Central Florida, have filed a lawsuit challenging part of the state's reading retention law for third grade students.

The lawsuit targets standardized testing, specifically the reading portion of the Florida Standards Assessments for third graders.

The 14 parents filing the lawsuit say their children are proficient readers and had their children opt out of the test, which is allowed under Florida law. The state, however, later told them their children would be held back over not taking the test.

Pasco and Hernando counties are two of the seven districts being sued, along with the Florida Department of Eduction and the State Board of Education.

The lawsuit says because of the policy: "a third-grader who takes the standardized tests and scores poorly.... can still be promoted. Yet, an outstanding student who regularly produces proficient school work in the classroom for which they receive passing grades will be retained simply for not taking a standardized test that they are permitted to opt out of."

There is a student portfolio exemption in the case of students who opt out of the FSA but that requires teachers to collect school work throughout the year and submit that to the principal for review.

The problem last year, according to the parents, is that it allegedly took the state until the end of the school year to even determine what an acceptable portfolio was.

The state board is not commenting on the lawsuit.

Parents are asking for damages resulting from their students not being promoted to fourth grade. It is not clear if a judge could force the board of education to promote the students to fourth grade once the lawsuit is decided.