Indiana may follow Florida's third-grade retention policy
And folks who have championed Florida's policy are weighing in up there. Both Patricia Levesque, executive director of Jeb Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education, and education researcher Jay P. Greene - who has closely monitored the effects of Florida's policy - wrote op-eds (click here and here) that appeared in Sunday's Indianapolis Star.
Levesque notes that 29 percent of Florida third graders scored at the bottom level of the FCAT before the retention policy went into effect in 2003. Last year, 17 percent did. She writes: "Florida's experience provides lessons to other state such as Indiana. First, students achieve when schools are organized around the singular goal of learning. When elementary schools placed a command focus on reading, more and more students learned to read. Second, schools also organized around avoiding failure. Schools didn't wait until the third grade to intervene with struggling readers. Those efforts started as early as kindergarten."
Greene notes that his published research findings show that retained students in Florida "learned at a significantly faster rate over the next two years" than like-scoring students who were promoted through exemptions. He writes: "Some oppose test-based promotion because they fear that holding students back damages their self-esteem, discourages them, and ultimately causes them to drop out. But this argument has things exactly backwards: promoting students who lack basic reading skills sets them up for failure as they fall further behind academically."