Government Test Bullying: Honor Students Retained for Opting Out

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This is the stuff of novels, not real life.

Students in some Florida counties, even some honor students, are being left back in third grade because their parents opted them out of State Standards assessments in reading.

The lawsuit is based on claims of inequitable treatment, because only certain Florida counties interpret the third grade retention law to mean that opting out of the FSA [standardized tests] means being held back a grade. The Florida Department of Education has never required it.

The tests, with all their flaws, are more important in those counties than teachers’ assessments of their students or parental rights.

The retention law was passed years before the opt out movement began and parents are contesting the current interpretation because of that.

The Florida Department of Education is trying to force parents to give up the opt out alternative and the officials are willing to use the students as pawns.

The judge has not yet ruled on the suit brought by parents against Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart, the State Board of Education, and the school boards in Orange, Hernando, Osceola, Sarasota, Pasco, Broward and Seminole counties.

Other counties did not interpret the retention law in such a draconian way.

Parents organized over the summer when the students were told they would be retained.

The Obama administration and Jeb Bush as the then-governor shoved the tests down the throats of the parents in Florida as others have done throughout the nation.

Under the replaced K-12 No Child Left Behind law, there was a mandate that 95 percent of students in every school had to take a mandated test for accountability purposes but there was no opt out movement and compliance was easy.

There is no stated 95 percent mandate in the current law, but the Obama administration has proposed new regulations to implement the act in a way that would include one. Critics have urged the Education Department to change the draft regulations.

If the Obama administration succeeds, we will back to square one with the government mandating these endless and overpowering tests.

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