Pasco County school grade retention stabilizes
The FCAT testing season is fast approaching, and third graders taking the exam for the first time bear the brunt of the state's promotion policy. If they don't earn a passing score on the reading section, they face retention unless they receive a good cause promotion with a portfolio of their work or passage of an alternate test.
In 2010-11, 9 percent of Pasco County third graders were retained because of the FCAT requirement, with another 9 percent receiving good cause promotions. Those percentages have remained fairly steady over the past five years. But superintendent Heather Fiorentino has said the numbers could increase with the recent adoption of different FCAT cut scores by the Florida Board of Education.
Retentions in other grade levels are dependent more on passing specific courses and maintaining an adequate grade point average.
The requirements for middle school changed for students entering sixth grade in or after 2006-07. The percentage of Pasco middle school student retained in 2009-10 rose to 3 percent, but fell back to 1 percent in 2010-11. The bulk of those were eighth-graders, who had a 3 percent retention rate.
The school district has placed more responsibility on high school students to get their work done. The retention rate was 12 percent in 2007-2009. With more attention paid to credit recovery and other "graduation enhancement" programs, that rate has dropped to 9 percent for the past two years.
See the district's full promotion and retention report for 2010-11 attached below. Then tell us whether retention is a way to help students focus before moving on to harder material, or a penalty that leads students to feel failure and quit school, or something in between.