"No more testing,” says Bodhi Warner, a third-grader.
From kids to parents about two dozen rallied in front of the Sarasota School District offices along U.S. 41 with one message.
Paula Drew joined the other parents and says, “It’s an injustice to children who worked all year long, 180 days to demonstrate their proficiency. … To hold them back based on 1 test score is wrong morally wrong, ethically wrong.”
But according to state law, it’s legally right says Sarasota County School Superintendent Lori White. “Current law does not allow report card grade to be sufficient for us meeting the very specific requirement in state board ruling statute,” says White.
School districts are allowing third-graders who opted out of the test to use one of the good cause exemptions either take another standardized test or a Portfolio of 12 short reading comprehension tests to show reading proficiency and be promoted to fourth grade.
“The way it reads to me only concern is with a child that has documented reading deficiencies my son doesn’t have a reading deficiency,” says Wendy Chastain, parent.
Chastain’s son Aidan has a B grade in reading comprehension. He’s the one Sarasota student who’s turned down all alternative testing. “The change needs to happen. We need to do what makes sense,” says Chastain.
Paula Drew’s daughter Madison is disabled. She says the state rejected a medical exemption for her. Drew is suing the Florida Department of Education.
Some school officials worry the concessions made for parents whose students opted out of the FSA means more third-graders will opt out next year.
Parents aren’t alone. Some school officials hope state legislators will consider clarifying the law.
White says, “Retention is not an easy decision. Certainly I look forward to the day there is discretion as we have in other grade levels that’s not current law.”