Parents Sue Over Kids Being Kept From Fourth Grade, Standardized Tests To Blame

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Angry parents in Florida have filed a lawsuit against state education authorities and school boards across seven counties because their children are being held back from continuing to the fourth grade, the Washington Post reports.

An undisclosed number of third-grade students whose parents decided not to let them take Florida’s mandated standardized reading test in the spring are being made to retake the third grade in seven counties – including some honor students.

The lawsuit filed by the parents say that counties are interpreting the state’s retention law for the third grade differently, making the process unfair and allowing test participation to be a more important marker for moving up than academic achievement.

Leon County Circuit Court Judge Karen Gievers held a hearing Friday on the suit. The third-grade retention law was passed many years ago by former governor Jeb Bush, during an era when parents made no moves to opt their children out of standardized tests.

Now, more parents have joined the movement to keep kids off the Florida Standards Assessment, and education officials are in the process of working out how to handle children who won’t take the mandated exams.

There are no clear numbers on how many students did not take the 2016 standardized test, but in New York state, 21% of public school students opted out.

Judge Gievers says she may rule in the suit as early as next week, which names Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart, the State Board of Education, and school boards in Orange, Osceola, Hernando, Sarasota, Broward, Pasco and Seminole counties.

The Florida Department of Education said that it has never made it obligatory for students to be retained if they don’t take the test, while other counties in the state interpreted the law loosely, allowing students to move up to fourth grade.

Students and their parents learned of the retention in June, when they received report cards. Over the summer, the parents of the opt-out children got together and raised enough money to file the suit.


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