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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Florida lawmakers quietly change third-grade retention law



As the Florida Education Association noted in its latest lawsuit, SB 850 did more than expand the state's school voucher system.

It also changed the rules for Florida's controversial and oft-copied third-grade retention rules, first promulgated by Jeb Bush. The rule, which as Politico noted is losing steam in other states, requires third graders to pass the state reading exam or repeat the grade until they can demonstrate the ability to move ahead.

The law always included exemptions, such as a performance portfolio, an alternate test score and consideration of disabilities and English proficiency. Now, the Legislature has added another way out: Previous third grade retention.

SB 850 added this language to the good cause exemptions:

"Students who have received intensive reading intervention for 2 or more years but still demonstrate a deficiency in reading and who were previously retained in kindergarten, grade 1, grade 2, or grade 3 for a total of 2 years. A student may not be retained more than once in grade 3."

Pasco County principals learned of the change this week, in a district alert not to hold back any children who fit this latest amendment. Curriculum supervisor Darrell Huling said the district hasn't changed its formal student progression plan, though, because it's waiting for an official interpretation of the rule from the Department of Education.

[Last modified: Thursday, July 17, 2014 2:07pm]


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