Karen R. Effrem, MD - Executive Director
Jeff Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times wrote a confused and confusing column yesterday about the effects of the new testing law (HB 7069) on third grade retention, saying the following: Because the law no longer mandates retention, districts are now figuring out how to have uniform decisions throughout their elementary school systems.
Here are four pieces of evidence showing that his statement is not true: His earlier column on the subject:
This wording [The diluted Hays amendment requiring a validity study allegedly before retention] does not end or put off the retention of third graders.
The language to which he refers for the statement above that third grade retention is not ended:
1216 (c) Until such time as an independent verification of the
1217 psychometric validity of the statewide, standardized assessments
1218 first implemented in 2014-2015 is provided,for purposes of
1219 [determining - stricken] grade 3 English Language Arts student performance
1220[ retention pursuant to s. 1008.25(5) - stricken] and high school graduation
1221requirements pursuant to s. 1003.4282, student performance on
1222 the 2014-2015 statewide, standardized assessments shall be
1223 linked to the 2013-2014 student performance expectations.
Because the legislature struck the language referring to the third grade retention statute related to the validity study requirement, there is no protection for third graders being retained due to an invalid test.Additionally, the language above is only for the 2014-2015 school year. There is no language to indicate that the third grade retention policy is changed, weakened, postponed, or stopped any time beyond 2015.
Another place in the new law: 922 (b) To be promoted to grade 4, a student must score a
923 Level 2 or higher on the statewide, standardized English
924 Language Arts assessment required Read more
Bills to deal with the out of control testing system in Florida advanced in the House and Senate this week. Here is an overview:HB 7069 Unfortunately the two good amendments by Rep. Mia Jones and Rep. Evan Jenne that we discussed in our last alert were defeated along party lines on the 17th. We do thank Rep. Debbie Mayfield (Indian River) and Rep. Tom Goodson (Orange) for being the only two Republicans courageous enough to join all of the Democrats and vote for Rep. Jenne's very common-sense amendment to allow a paper and pencil option and to affirm the requirement for load testing that Commissioner Stewart so flagrantly ignored. Unfortunately, the rest succumbed to the difficult to swallow concept that paper and pencil tests would be too expensive and "blow up the budget," when the state, according to State Board of Education president Gary Chartrand, admitted during the February 18, 2014 hearing and an FSBA memo have both stated that the switch to online Common Core testing will cost Florida taxpayers $2 billion.One very important issue that we mentioned in our last alert was about reading and third grade retention. We said that HB 7069, "While attempting to streamline the issues surrounding third grade retention for reading deficiency, it actually appears to decrease flexibility for parents trying to prevent retention by limiting any "Good cause" alternatives until after the child has failed the state reading test." Although the language says that a portfolio may be started any time there is concern about a reading deficiency, parents may not be notified of such and may not be able to start a portfolio until after the child has failed the reading test at near the end of the year. In addition, the bill removes the portfolio and alternative assessment from the "good cause" list of exemptions. Now the new language states: 918 (b) In order to be promoted to grade 4, a student must919 score a Level 2 or higher on the statewide, standardized English920 Language Read more
The Senate Education Committee met on March 4th to discuss a proposed committee substitute for SB 616. The bill, sponsored by committee chairman John Legg, makes some good attempts to begin to deal with the testing issue, but given the severe extent of problems, needs additional protections for student and parental rights, privacy and other issues. The bill works to have a 5% cap on testing, which is a step in the right direction, but does not explain who is going to and how the time is going to be kept on different students who take different tests especially in high school. It gets rid of the 11th grade Reading/English test and keeps the 10th grade high stakes test. It allows districts to seek a waiver on school grades if they so choose for technological or financial reasons. However, if they choose that option they cannot qualify for any kind of performance bonuses even if the problems are beyond their control. The bill also decreases the percentage for which test scores are used in teacher evaluations. Several common sense amendments by Senator Bullard that would have enhanced these good first steps were rejected along party lines. One of these amendments allowed a paper/pencil alternative for testing that deals with technology issues and would have also protected students from the manipulative and data mining aspects of computerized testing. This is the same language contained in his bill SB 1450, the Senate companion to Rep. Debbie Mayfield's HB 877, analyzed here. The DOE is now saying in response to emailed inquiries that the FSA is not nor will be adaptive, meaning that the questions change based on the answers to the previous question. However, that is new news and somewhat difficult to accept and verify given AIR's development of the computer adaptive testing platform for SBAC, the other federal Common Core test; the fact that Utah's test, from which Florida is paying another $16 million dollars to lease questions, is also adaptive; and the Read more