Florida’s Retention Policy: Is It Working?

Sue Legg of the Florida League of Voters wonders whether Florida’s policy of holding back third grade students who don’t pass the reading test is working.

It certainly boosts fourth grade reading scores.

But she notes a strange anomaly: Why does the number of high-scoring students decline from fourth grade to eighth grade?

She also notes that the biggest improvement in fourth grade reading scores occurred before the “reforms” were implemented.

She welcomes your thoughts in explaining why the number of high scoring students drops from fourth to eighth grades.

She writes:

“Do Florida students’ reading skills get worse over time? This seems unlikely. There was a relatively large increase in reading scores for eighth grade in 2009, and scores have only fluctuated slightly since then.

“Other possible explanations. Perhaps eighth grade student characteristics are now different than in fourth grade? How could this be? There are several ways to explore this possibility:

“Florida’s retention policy is more extreme than most other states’ policies.

“Thus, Florida has more students who have been in school longer by fourth grade than do other states. One would expect their reading and math levels to be higher. This advantage may be lost by eighth grade when these skills are more complex.

“Does Florida’s school choice policy pull out more low scoring students in elementary grades, thereby elevating its fourth grade scores compared to other states?

“Do many of these students return to public schools in middle school and lower the state achievement scores?

“We know from Florida DOE data that the Florida tax credit program enrollment drops more than one half between kindergarten and eighth grade.

“Which students leave the private schools and which remain? If the struggling students leave, as the DOE evaluations suggest, eighth grade scores in public schools would decline.

“A similar examination of the achievement levels of students who return to public schools from charter schools between fourth and eighth grade may also shed some light on the changing student achievement

“I welcome an evaluation of Florida’s school accountability approach to improving student learning.”

from sarah http://ift.tt/2ps9ari

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