Helping Children, Not Test Scores

team-150149_1280Florida’s DOE did a good thing for 3rd graders today.    We have been talking about NAEP results in Florida for fourth grade.  See Testing: Maybe we should require statistics.  I mentioned some published concerns about third grade retention policies that might skew fourth grade test results.  If students who fail FCAT are retained, then fourth grade NAEP scores should look better.  After all, the children who struggle the most are still in 3rd grade.  Guess what I found out today.  Children should do a happy dance.

The Tampa Bay Times published an article entitled:  Florida Board of Education to Revise Third Grade Retention Rules.  According to the article, retained third graders currently can move to fourth grade in mid year if they demonstrate appropriate fourth grade level proficiency on FCAT in reading. That is a big jump for a struggling student.  Now, the revised rule states that retained third graders who master third grade reading levels on FSA skills prior to mid year promotion the following year may be promoted during the year.  They will be behind in instruction by about six months but will be monitored.

Is this good or bad?  Retaining children marks them as failures at very young ages; that’s bad.  I remember my daughter’s teacher in second grade telling me she was having some reading problems.  She was not retained, she was helped and became a National Merit Scholar.  Other children also need help.

Some schools have a solution.  They take children who are at the same reading level out of their home room classes.  These children,  who may be in different grades, work together and receive appropriate intensive instruction during part of the day. This is organizationally quite different for some schools, but according to the P.K. Yonge laboratory school’s experience, it is effective and child friendly. We did a feature on P.K. Yonge last fall.  They won an Edutopia award for their program.  You can see the video and read about it here.

Let’s hope districts also have creative ways to structure learning.  If you know of some, share the approach.


Posted in Achievement, Department of Education, Florida, Testing.

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