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Duval County overriding teachers and pushing through promotions.

First let me say I have never thought it good policy to retain a child based how they did on a high stakes test, which sadly has been SOP for third graders in Florida for years now.  

That being said I have no problem with a child being retained if they don’t master the material they are supposed to have.

Now some may point to statistics that say retained children are at a higher risk of dropping out or entering the school to prison pipeline as reasons not to hold them back.

To which I would counter, pushing kids through just starts a cycle where they fall further and further behind and never catch up only to be eventually graduated out without the ability to do much.

I also believe kids that are retained should get the extra help they need, which may include wrap around services to catch them up.

Finally I am also a big fan of summer school because some children need a longer school year to master the material and less time in between grades so they don’t lose what they have learned.

Okay I have rambled on enough, let’s get to it.

If a teacher wants to retain a student they must now fill out a teacher retention form and get their decision approved by the district, you know, because we need to micromanage teachers more.  

Furthermore retained children can automatically appeal.

This might not be a problem except I spoke with one teacher at an elementary school who said last year every appeal but one was granted by the district. Only one out of dozens was denied. I hear all the time about how teachers are pressured to pass children even if they don't deserve it or haven't mastered the material.

We can’t continue to push kids along and wonder why they are not successful and we can’t continue to blame teachers for poor results when their hands are tied, their decisions overridden and they and the children are put in positions where success is unlikely.

We have to start doing things the right way, even if it is a little harder and takes a little longer. Our teachers and children deserve it.


  1. Excellent post with excellent points! Thanks!

  2. Someone please tell me how this benefits kids when they reach 3rd grade and they fail the FSA. Do they have to go through summer school as well? What's the point, if the child has gone through summer school and passed onto 1st and 2nd grade?

    1. Because administrators will encourage teachers to pass kids in 1st and 2nd and let the FSA fail them in third. This puts the third grade teacher in quite the predicament. What is really difficult is explaining to a parent how their child has passed in the previous years.

  3. It's no longer of concern when Johnny graduates HS and can't read his diploma.

    1. Johnny won't earn his high school diploma unless he earns a passing score on the 10th grade FCAT/FSA. Parents can push Johnny through promotion in the earlier grades, but the ultimate promotion, i.e. high school diploma, wont happen without a passing score on the 10th grade Reading FCAT/FSA or earning a concordant score on the Reading portion of the SAT or ACT. There are more and more seniors every year who are able to earn their standard high school diploma, even without earning a passing score on the FCAT/FSA, because they are able to score high enough on the Reading portion of the SAT or ACT to meet this graduation requirement. DCPS strategy now for working with 11th and 12th graders who have not passed the FCAT/FSA is to give the students ACT prep as these students are able to earn the concordant scores but have a hard time with FCAT/FSA.

  4. Do teachers really matter?

  5. Parents,
    I beg of you. If you know your child is struggling and summer school won't help, keep them retained. My child was in the same boat last year in 1st grade. She had an excellent teacher, so I made sure she was put with her again the following year. Now, she is reading on grade level and feels much more confident in herself. Meet with your child's teachers and ask how you can help at home. Teachers are not miracle workers. Their hands are already tied with this ridiculous promotion system. Do your parts as parents and collaborate with your teachers to help your child get where they need to be.

  6. I hear people say retention is not helpful. I have seen retention work in K and 1st. Students need the foundational skills to learn to read. If they get promoted without those skills, they will not be able to catch up. DCPS is hurting children by promoting them when they are not even close to mastery of standards. Vitti will be touting "Promotion rates have increased under my leadership". However, it is only because they are promoting against teacher judgement and grades earned.