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Social Promotions, the FCAT, and Common Core Standards.

The current scores of the most recent Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test scores because of the implementation of the New Common Core Standards have created quite a stir in many states. The complexity of the issue basically amounts to the final grades that schools within districts because it always results in funding for the various programs within the school sites. Although various solutions are being explored in the state of Florida, including the social promotion of a given average of about 10,000 third grade students, who have at some point repeated a grade at least twice already, North Carolina, New York, Louisiana, and most Oklahoma have all at some point submitted waivers to "opt out" of certain aspects of the New Common Core Standards. While it is expected that many more states will follow the example of Tennessee in creating a "workable" version of the new standards, the problem still remains regarding creating a remedial program for those students that have failed some aspects of the exam, are working 2 or more levels below benchmark, but cannot be retained for an additional fiscal school year. A break down of the some of the test scores are as follows :

In Reading, 57-percent of students statewide scored on or above grade level in grades 3 through 10. Broward County Public School students in grades 3 through 10 also came in at 57-percent. The number was lower in Miami-Dade with only 54-percent of students scoring on or above grade level. In Math, the statewide figure was also 57-percent in grades 3 through 8. In Broward, the number was higher with 60-percent but it was lower in Miami-Dade with 56-percent. Students in fifth and eighth grade also took a Science FCAT. Statewide, 51-percent of students in 5th grade performed at or above the level 3 achievement level.

A variety of solutions be possibly be selected until a state decides to initiate and implement a bold initiative that retains the best components of the Common Core Standards and tweaks the options that would be beneficial to all of the stake holders within the educational system including those in grade 13, or post secondary education. Some recommendations might include:

  • Outsourcing the 3rd grade students within the building. (This is probably the most common strategy where students will attend specialized classes with aggressive, innovative Resource Educators.)
  • Creating a special grade level for the targeted student groups, but allows them to attend special area subjects along with their peers.
  • Create a new position for an Itinerant Educator so that he/she might travel between feeder-patterns to service the students on selected days.
  • Initiating a "revolving door" policy so that those students, when periodically assessed, showing sufficient adequate gains may be able to merge back into a selected classroom where the initial student count is deliberately kept much lower to accommodate "mergers" during the fiscal year.
  • Hire additional Teacher Assistants to work ONLY in the rooms with the designated "Social Promoters' Rooms."
  • Finally, but certainly not in the least, develop a rigorous collaborative home-to-school-to-home program so that there is consistency and scaffolding during the crucial periods of non-school contact.

While this list is by no means exhaustive, it sounds out that either way the districts will have to invest heavily into the lives of these students and create a more cohesive pathway for the students most affected by this educational hurdle.

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