3rd-grader could be held back in school for opting out of FSA test

Seminole County mother opts daughter out of Florida Standards Assessment

By Erik Sandoval - Reporter, Nadeen Yanes - Reporter

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. - A third-grader at Wekiva Elementary School is waiting to hear if she really will be held back after her mother opted her out of the Florida Standards Assessment.

Gabrielle Weaver told News 6 Seminole County Public Schools informed her of the news last Thursday -- Camryn Weaver will be held back because she didn't take the test.

"When a student does not participate in the assessment program, SCPS administrators notify the student's parent regarding the implications of the student's non-participation," said district spokesman Michael Lawrence.  "In third grade, one of those potential consequences may be retention."

Lawrence said the district offered several options to get Camryn into the fourth grade by next school year, but Weaver says she doesn't want any option that includes more testing.

"What the school system is basically saying is that your third-grade teacher means nothing, and the only thing that you're going to do his test prep and take this test," said Gabrielle Weaver. "If you fail it, you're not going into the fourth grade."

News 6 spoke with Opt Out Orlando, an organization against what it calls "high stakes" standardized testing.

Director Cindy Hamilton said Weaver's decision is a protest against the FSA.

"I feel very passionately that if we do nothing -- nothing will change," she said.‚Äč

On Thursday, more parents contacted News 6 saying they are in the same position as Weaver. Getting report cards showing A's and B's but with the word "Retained" at the bottom.

Orange County mom Elizabeth Gerulli got an email with the news from her son's principal at Tildenville Elementary School Wednesday.

"We were told that his report card is not good enough to promote him to the fourth grade, even though he has had passing grades all year," Gerulli said. "It's scary. We aren't ready to give up the fight. We know that he's ready."

The Florida Departmet of Education says state statute was changed this year, reading:

1. The requirement in Section 1008.25(5)(b) To be promoted to grade 4, a students must score a Level 2 or higher on the statewide, standardized English Language Arts assessment required under s. 1008.22.

However, Gerulli says that part of the statute is under the Reading Deficiency section of the statute.
"In the statute, it is listed in there, however it's under the header of reading deficiency and parental notification," she said. "So that would require children that have documented ready deficiency in order for that to apply to them. This doesn't affect my son

It also doesn't apply to several other students in Central Florida according to Opt-Out Florida co-founder Cindy Hamilton. News 6 has learned at least 10 students are in this position in Orange, Seminole and Osceola Counties. Hamilton believes there's more.

"We have some parents that have proficient high performing third-graders who have a report card in hand that says 'retained' and the district has no plan for that child if they have to return to the third grade," Hamilton said.

But the Opt-Out parents have a plan, they are going to fight to the fourth grade.

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