Thursday, June 02, 2016

Statement on 3rd Grade Retention by Superintendent Browning

Statement on 3rd Grade Retention
By Superintendent Kurt S. Browning
June 1, 2016

As superintendent of Pasco County Schools, I want to make it clear that I have no desire to retain third graders who clearly demonstrate that they have mastered state standards.  Retaining students not only has questionable long-term benefits for the retained student, it also adds to the cost of educating them.

Pasco County has interpreted the law and State Board Rules to allow schools to compile portfolios for students who do not score a 2 or above on the English Language Arts Standards Assessment.  Portfolios consist of standards-aligned classroom work samples and a variety of student performance data to show evidence those students have demonstrated mastery of the standards assessed on the FSA.

After a recent article in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, I received a call from the Department of Education questioning our practice of allowing the use of good cause portfolios.  I gathered my staff on Tuesday and held a conference call with DOE staff, during which we were told that a student who does not have a score of two or higher on the 3rd grade FSA ELA or the DOE-approved alternative assessment (SAT10) must attend summer reading camp and be retained in 3rd grade until the next school year.  This was very concerning to me as the Superintendent.  A short time later, I received a call back, and after explaining our process again; I was then told that Pasco’s process meets the requirements of Florida law in using a good cause portfolio for exemption from this mandatory retention.

We were confident that we were in compliance with the law, and we appreciate the DOE’s confirmation that we are.