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Friday, April 3, 2015

Vitti says one thing in public another in e-mail

Let me start by saying the parent wasn't asking about opting their child out of the states exams but instead how their child could still be promoted if they scored a one on the third grade test. In the video above Viiti seems to be saying that a good report card is enough to successfully make up for a low score. What he said in an e-mail however was almost completely different.


Thank you for contacting me Board Member Couch regarding third grade retention and the new Florida Assessment. The state statute contains the word “portfolio” to reference two different types of portfolios used during the good cause process.  A student who receives a level 1 on the third grade FSA assessment must go through the entire good cause process in order to be promoted to fourth grade. The possibility that the state will provide a hold harmless on retention does not mean we will not have to collect evidence that a child is proficient in all grade level standards, or that we can provide a good cause exemption. We have been moving forward with good cause information so all students have an equal opportunity to meet the requirements for promotion.

The good cause promotion process includes:

1.      meeting one of the 6 good cause exemptions (listed below)
      (1) Have less than two years of instruction in an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program; or

(2) Have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for a student with disabilities which indicates thatparticipation in the state required Reading assessment program is not appropriate; or

(3) Score at or above the required percentile on the State-approved alternative assessment at the end of the school year or the end of Summer Reading School (we currently use the SAT-10); or

(4) Complete a Student Portfolio in accordance with district guidelines demonstrating that they are reading equal to performing at least at Level 2 performance on the state required Reading assessment (the portfolio can be completed before the end of the school year, or before the end summer reading program if a student has not completed it during the school year); or

(5) Be a student with a disability who participates in the state required Reading assessment and has an IEP or Section 504 plan that reflects that the student has received intensive reading remediation for more than two years but still demonstrates a deficiency in Reading and Language Arts AND was previously retainedin grades K, 1, 2, or 3; or

(6) Received intensive reading remediation in Reading and Language Arts for two or more years and was previously retained in K, 1, 2, or 3 for a total of two years. Intensive reading instruction for students so promoted must include an altered instructional day that includes specialized diagnostic information and specific reading strategies for each student. The district school board shall assist schools and teachers to implement reading strategies that research has shown to be successful in improving reading among low-performing readers.  A student may not be retained more than once in 3rd grade.

One of these 6 must be met along with:

2.      a principal and teacher recommendation that indicates academic success in the third grade classroom and
3.      a review of the entire good cause packet by the Superintendent or designee with a signature that approves the promotion

The portfolio referenced in the 6 good cause exemptions is a collection of assessments students complete independently to show 3 examples of mastery of all standards tested on the FSA. Mastery is measured at 70% or better on an assessment. These items must also meet the other requirements of the FSA assessment, 50% literary / 50% informational, 100-700 word length, appropriate grade level text (item specifications list the genre and topics that may be covered). There are multiple opportunities for each standard.

The portfolio referenced to in the “report card or portfolio” statement is referring to the evidence of academic success mentioned above in #2. The report card is utilized to demonstrate that a child is in good academic standing or has good grades. In other words, this is the second piece of evidence the principal or school provides when indicating a child is ready to go to fourth grade even if FSA scores are level 1. A report card is not a good cause exemption and this is why this statement falls under Procedures for Good Causes Exemptions to Third Grade Retention (Section 1008.25(6)(c), F. not under the good cause exemptions section.

Portfolio information has been available to all schools since the end of January and has been a procedure in place since 2002.  You are correct there many options to show the child has mastered the Florida Standards and these options have been outlined on the data collection sheet provided to schools. There were 5 webinars held in February and the recoding of a webinar was sent to coaches and principals through their regional superintendent so they could listen to the information as needed. Principals have received Friday briefings outlining the requirements. A follow-up webinar session is being held at the beginning of next week to answer any questions that have arisen since the beginning of the process.

By following state statute we are doing best by our children so that we are able to confidently report that our children are ready for fourth grade, and the evidence is available that shows mastery of standards. Mrs. Couch continues to be heavily involved in the effort to provide our students, teacher, and parents an exception to all accountability rules in this year of transition.

Please let me know if you have any additional questions. You may also contact Mason Davis,

Nikolai P. Vitti, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
I imagine the parent who asked the question was quite happy with Vitti's public answer and felt the opposite after reading above. I don't want to come down to hard on Vitti but he was at a meeting to discuss testing, he had to know questions about making up for low scores so students could be promoted was going to come up.

Maybe he didn't want to bore the audience with all the details knowing he could explain in greater detail later. The thing is I bet the parents who took the time to show up wouldn't have minded all the detail and I bet their were other parents there too who had the same question who may now be thinking their child's report card is good enough.

As for just using a report card, the e-mail answer is a resounding no, though the statutes seems to say the district can.

Instead the district (state???) has assembled enough hoops to make the NBA jealous. If a student takes the test and score a level 1 they will need a portfolio for a good cause exemption . This consist of 51 documents to prove they've mastered the standards. Even if they have straight A's. A good report card seems almost immaterial.

So lets sum up, at a meeting Vitti says, sure lets go ahead and use report cards if a kid scores a one but then in an e-mail his tune quickly changes. I just can't figure out why he would give such a wrong answer in public. Say what you want but the super is a very smart and usually a very calculating man.

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