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Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Times Union muddies the water about the district failing third graders or not.

I feel like the Times Union muddied the waters today of the fail third graders or not debate.

Denise Amos Smith wrote: Some parents and teachers on social media criticized Duval officials, saying the district shouldn’t hold any students back this year.

I don't think that is accurate, no parent or teacher I know has a problem with failing a third grader who didn't make the grade or is so far behind it would be beneficial to them. I and I think most people have a problem with failing kids based on one test especially this test which hasn't been deemed valid or not yet. The state must have generated the list using the FSA test and everyone should have a problem with that. 

Smith Amos went on to say: But state officials said that would be unusual.

Notice the state official didn't say illegal, or would violate the law. they said unusual. Well the district has been making it sound like their hands are tied and they have no other recourse but to fail kids based on their test results. 

Well the state official mentioned in the article and several other districts disagree with that assertion. 

In the article Vitti said: Many of the lowest-quintile students will end up promoted anyway, though many likely will go to summer school.

 This isn't what people want to happen. They don't want the district to use the list generated from a test that may be invalid. They want the district to use their own metrics though honestly most people would prefer the district and state trusted the teachers in the classroom to determine who is promoted, failed or needs summer school.  

Finally Smith Amos wrote: State leaders, under pressure by school groups, parents and critics of the new state assessments, changed state law this year to give districts more flexibility, allowing them to decide who to retain or promote to the next grade. That decision followed criticism by those who said that the state’s new tests are untried; they have had technical glitches and they were not ready to determine who gets promoted a grade.

This begged the follow up question, Superintendent Vitti if you have permission to decide on your own, and you  know the test may be invalid, why are you using it to determine who passes and fails? 

Just to sum up, the Times Union reported, the state gave districts the power to determine how they fail or pass third graders and the district has decided to use a list generated from a test that nobody knows if it is valid or not. The Times Union did not ask why.

to read the article click the link

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