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Thousands of 3rd graders work for promotion after low FSA scores

Students, parents work for 4th grade promotion
Posted at 10:45 PM, Jul 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-13 00:14:40-04

Right now there are thousands of children in Palm Beach County and Treasure Coast classrooms trying to make the grade.

They're part of the thousands of third graders in our area that scored too low on the Florida Standards Assessment test, or FSA, to make it to fourth grade.

Robert Reardon of Port St. Lucie is one of those third graders.

His mother had him opt-out of the FSA by not filling-in answers. 

“There's no way that he would have passed that FSA," Reardon said.

No answers meant Robert failed the English, language, arts portion of the FSA which is a must-pass for third graders to be promoted to fourth.

Reardon says her son has a form of autism, but didn't pass St. Lucie County School District standards to put him in specialized classes. 

Reardon says her little boy has issues with big tests like the FSA. 

"He just knows he needs this feeling to go away. So he's going to Christmas tree the whole test just to be done with it and close the book so he doesn't have to look at how much is there anymore," said Reardon. 

In St. Lucie County, Robert is one of 696 3rd graders doing work to be eligible for promotion to 4th grade. If you add up all the 3rd graders in this situation in the Palm Beaches and Treasure Coast the total is 3,553 students.

An independent review of the FSA conducted last year concluded it's an accurate measure of whether students have mastered state academic standards.

That same review warned schools shouldn't make "critical decisions" about students based solely on the FSA.

St. Lucie School District Chief Academic Officer Dr. Helen wild agrees.

"I don't believe any single measure should make the decision that a child has mastered all the content of the entire year, which is why we take advantage of all the options that the law does allow," said Dr. Wild.

Dr. Wild does not support the "opt out" parent groups forming in several counties.

Some opt out groups even hope lawyers will go to court in hopes of getting kids who "opt out" of the test promoted anyway.

Dr. Wild defends the FSA retention process.

"To believe that we're teaching to the test to me it's the reverse of that. The test is supposed to be measuring what we're teaching." said Dr. Wild.

"To put that much pressure on them on that age, it's too much," said Reardon who hopes her son makes the grade.

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