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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

A little more information about that extra hour at Low 300 schools



Elementary schools that landed on Florida's Lowest 300 list for reading performance are gearing up for their extra hour of daily reading instruction, as parent questions and concerns continue to mount.

Pasco County officials have fielded several inquiries about whether students who scored Level 4 on the Florida Standards Assessment for language arts must participate, as well as how students who earned Level 5 may opt out.

Despite their own doubts about the need, the officials said Level 4 students will be expected to take part in the program, because of state law requirements. If they leave before the day ends, as some parents have hinted they would like to do, the children will be marked as early checkouts. If they have too many of those, one principal said, they could be referred to a social worker for intervention.

Level 5 students are given the option in law to opt out. District spokesman Spencer Pylant said parents who wish to take advantage should let their schools know soon, so the schools can make accommodations for those children.

However, he added, the district is looking at the instruction as valuable not just for students needing help. It also will include enrichment for higher-performing students, Pylant said, so they can further build their reading skills.

Some parents have suggested that the program, intended by lawmakers for remedial work, would not apply to their children. One mother lamented to administrators that she's been told by lawmakers if she doesn't want her Level 4 child to participate, she can use choice to leave the school -- something she does not want to do.

Some principals, meanwhile, have said they'd like to be able to offer the extra attention to retained third graders or low performing second graders -- something they cannot do because they don't have enough money after serving Level 4 students.

Each school leadership team will be deciding exactly how to implement the added hour in the next few days. They might roll the instruction into other classes, or provide something extra at the end of the day. The district has not mandated a set method.

We'd love to hear your personal experiences with this issue as they arise. Send information to [email protected]

[Last modified: Thursday, August 4, 2016 2:42pm]


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