Florida education rules permit portfolios for promotion to fourth grade
Much is being made these days of some Florida school districts that are refusing to promote third graders without a state reading test score -- even if the children are achieving above grade level in class.
Parents argue the test score isn't needed, suggesting that only students with demonstrated reading deficiencies should be subject to the requirements. District officials recite state law to counter the claim, saying the testing rules on social promotion apply equally to all students.
Regardless of that disagreement, nowhere in the state law does it say that a child with a poor score, or no score, must take an alternate test to the Florida Standard Assessment before seeking a portfolio option. In fact, the law offers a portfolio as an equal good cause exemption to an alternate assessment:
3. Students who demonstrate an acceptable level of performance on an alternative standardized reading or English Language Arts assessment approved by the State Board of Education.
4. A student who demonstrates through a student portfolio that he or she is performing at least at Level 2 on the statewide, standardized English Language Arts assessment.
State Board of Education rule on Alternative Standardized Reading Assessment and Use of Student Portfolio for Good Cause Promotion is equally clear:
(1) Pursuant to Section 1008.25(6), F.S., relating to the statewide public school student progression law eliminating social promotion, students who score at Level 1 on the Grade 3 statewide English Language Arts assessment may be promoted to grade four if the student:
(a) Scores at or above the 45th percentile on the Reading SAT-10;
(b) Demonstrates an acceptable level of performance on an alternative standardized reading assessment approved pursuant to subsection (2) of this rule;
(c) Demonstrates reading on grade level as evidenced through mastery of the Language Arts Florida Standards in reading equal to at least Level 2 performance on the Grade 3 statewide English Language Arts assessment.
The rule goes on to define the evidence needed to show reading on grade level without the test. It must be material independently produced in class and selected by the student's teacher, and could include chapter tests and teacher-prepared assignments, among other items:
(3) To promote a student using a student portfolio as a good cause exemption there must be evidence that demonstrates the student's mastery of the Language Arts Florida Standards in reading equal to at least a Level 2 performance on the Grade 3 statewide English Language Arts assessment. Such evidence shall be an organized collection of the student's mastery of the Language Arts Florida Standards that are assessed by the Grade 3 statewide English Language Arts assessment. The student portfolio must meet the following criteria:
(a) Be selected by the student's teacher,
(b) Be an accurate picture of the student's ability and only include student work that has been independently produced in the classroom,
(c) Include evidence that the standards assessed by the Grade 3 statewide English Language Arts assessment have been met. Evidence is to include multiple choice items and passages that are approximately sixty (60) percent literary text and forty (40) percent information text, and that are between 100-700 words with an average of 500 words. Such evidence could include chapter or unit tests from the district's/school's adopted core reading curriculum that are aligned with the Language Arts Florida Standards or teacher-prepared assessments.
(d) Be an organized collection of evidence of the student's mastery of the Language Arts Florida Standards that are assessed by the Grade 3 statewide English Language Arts assessment. For each standard, there must be at least three (3) examples of mastery as demonstrated by a grade of seventy (70) percent or above on each example, and
(e) Be signed by the teacher and the principal as an accurate assessment of the required reading skills.
That's in the information sent to districts. Some are using teacher-generated portfolio materials to support a parent or child's claim of reading proficiency, as the law and rule allow. Others aren't, or are creating more complicated paths. Some parents are preparing to fight. Keep an eye on this one.