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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Group seeks support to fight Florida's third-grade retention law



A dedicated group of Florida parents who don't like the idea of retaining third graders based on a state reading test are trying to fight back.

They've turned to in hopes of raising $17,000 to support a lawsuit challening the statute, which has been in place for more than a decade. Relatively unchallenged since its inception, the rule has come under fire lately as districts have battled with parents over whether a test score is required for promotion -- regardless of other work completed through the year.

"Courageous parents have refused all further testing for purposes of promotion," according to the Opt Out Florida Network, which is supporting the effort. "They are demanding that their children be promoted based on the work they did all year long, evidenced by satisfactory report cards or actual portfolios of their children's work (which includes tests done in school) - a more thorough and rigorous evaluation than any single test could possibly be."

The families have talked with lawyers, and are aiming to get the courts to find the retention law unconstitutional and unenforceable.

If successful, their effort could have widespread effect. Florida's third-grade retention law has been replicated throughout the country as other states seek to hold schools accountable for student learning.

Proponents have contended that students must be able to read at grade level by the end of third grade in order to succeed in higher grades, where reading skills are critical to understanding more complex content. Opponents, meanwhile, have argued that retention has too many negative effects.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 13, 2016 11:18am]


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