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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Florida is bound and determined to fail third graders no matter what.

Below is a letter sent to the district's teachers from superintendent Vitti.

I realize that you and parents have raised several questions regarding the state’s requirement for third grade retention this year. Despite the change in standards and assessment at the 3rd grade level and the independent validation ordered by Governor Scott, state law still requires any third grade student who does not score a Level 2 or higher to be retained in third grade, unless they meet one of the 7 traditional good cause exemptions. However, due to the fact that the test is now required to be validated by the legislature, 3rd grade test scores will be delayed by the Florida Department of Education (FODE) and therefore the Level 2 standard has been modified. The FDOE will now, for this year only, send us a list of Duval County Public School students who scored in the lowest 20% throughout the entire state and consider that list as being the students who would be considered for retention based on state law

If I read above correct then the state plans to fail the bottom fifth no matter what their score is and they don't care if the state has validated the tests or not either. Also where are they getting this list from? Oh from a test nobody seems to know if it is even valid or not is where. 

Vitti's letter went on to say: 

 Our letter sent home was to proactively communicate with 3rd grade parents to ensure that they were aware of the most recent decisions of the state and how that affected our district timeline to fulfill state law regarding 3rd grade retention. We had no choice but to delay report cards for these students because the state also required that the new assessments be validated. This then delayed the typical timeline of state test scores for third grade being released. Those students fall under the requirements of state law regarding retention. The decision to delay report cards was to avoid a report card being sent home with a student that states a child is promoted, or retained, and the opposite occurs based on the student’s score on the state assessment.

What is the test is found to be invalid? That possibility seems to be being ignored by both the state and the district. Furthermore they aren't saying just level ones are to be retained, instead they are saying the bottom 20 percent, well what if some of those kids scored a two? They can be failed anyways apparently.. 

The letter finishes with:

With that said, we will use as much flexibility and discretion as we can to prevent students from being retained based on our own concerns with the newness and validity of the assessment. This is where we have included i-Ready and Achieve3000 scores.  We will use both of these assessments in our allowed flexibility for any student who appears on the state’s lowest 20% list. These indicators will not be used to retain students. The only retention indicator is the lowest 20% list which FDOE will provide.
1.      Retention in 3rd Grade is based on the FSA results.
2.      We will receive a list of our students who score in the bottom 20% of the state by June 8th.
3.      These students, by statute must be retained.
4.      Good Cause exemptions will be applied for these students who meet the following criteria:
(1) Have less than two years of instruction in an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program based on initial entry into a U.S. school, or
(2) Have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for a student with disabilities which indicates that participation in the state required Reading assessment program is not appropriate, or
(3) Score at or above the required percentile on the SAT10, 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, 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 retained in 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, or
(7) Has previously been retained in 3rd grade.
If you need further information, please reach out to your principal or Mason Davis, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction @

The district may indeed be willing to work hard to avoid failing kids based on the test but the entire situation is beyond absurd and personally I wish the super would say we're not going to do it that way. If  the state isn't going to do what's right then our district should.

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