FCAT: State test holding some students back in school

Student forced to repeat third grade

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - A Port St. Lucie family says their child is in the wrong class.  Their daughter passed third grade last year but her parents says she’s being forced to repeat the grade because of one state test.

The new school year began this week at Imagine Schools-Nau Campus in Port St. Lucie.  Kaleigh D’Amato’s backpack is already full of folders and homework.  Her friends are new but not the grade.

"Two weeks before school starts, we get a call from the principal and he stated that my daughter is being left back," said father Chris D'Amato.

The principal told them their 10-year-old daughter failed the reading part of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test known as the FCAT.

"She should not be judged on one test," said mother Desiree D'Amato.

Her parents say Kaleigh was very nervous when she took the test last spring.

"It was long and hard," said Kaleigh. "I didn’t know if I would pass it."

Her year end report card shows Kaleigh got a ‘C’ in reading.  

The school’s principal told us it’s a state mandate that third grade students who fail the reading portion of the FCAT be held back.

Principal John Drag explained to us it’s based on the philosophy that before third grade, students are “learning to read”. When they enter fourth grade they must now be “reading to learn”. 

"I don’t think it’s fair to the kids," says Chris D'Amato. 

Kaleigh’s parents said she’s working on her reading and plans to take a second test in the fall.  If she passes the second test she’ll go to the fourth grade.

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