Putting Education Reform To The Test

What Florida’s New Reading Exam Means For Your Third Grader

Third graders who earn the lowest score on Florida's new statewide reading test this school year, are still at risk of repeating third grade.

OSDE / Flickr

Third graders who earn the lowest score on Florida's new statewide reading test this school year, are still at risk of repeating third grade.

We’ve been answering audience questions about Florida’s new statewide test, the Florida Standards Assessments.

A parent asked us on Facebook: “Please find out for us parents of third graders, who face mandatory retention if they fail the new reading assessment this spring, how the state plans to deal with them. Will they return to 3rd grade after the cut scores are determined in Winter 2015?”

The bottom line: third graders can still be held back next year if they score the equivalent of a 1, out of 5, on the reading test. But those students are still eligible to to advance to fourth grade through one of state’s exemptions, including a portfolio or passing an alternative exam.

Florida students will begin taking the Florida Standards Assessments in early March, with testing running on and off through mid-May. But the State Board of Education isn’t expected to set final targets — known as cut scores — until Winter 2015.

State officials will determine whether a third grader is at risk of being retained through something known as “equipercentile linking.”

Florida Department of Education officials say that means the same percentage of third graders could be retained for their scores on the new Florida Standards Assessments this school year, as those who scored a 1 on the now-replaced FCAT reading exam last school year.

In 2014, 19 percent of third graders scored a 1 on the FCAT reading exam. Between 2011 and 2013, 18 percent of third graders scored a 1 on the exam. Historically, about 7 percent of third graders repeat the grade.

The agency says they’ll send students those results by early June, as required by law.

A similar process will apply to the tenth grade reading exam and the Algebra 1 exam, passing both of which are high school graduation requirements.

School leaders say parents should plan ahead if they’re worried their child might score a 1 on the Florida Standards Assessments. They recommend speaking with a teacher or principal about whether to make plans to compile a portfolio, take an alternate assessment or use another exemption.

For more information about the Florida Standards Assessments, including practice exams, check out the state’s website.


  • Mark Halpert

    A sensible approach to 3rd grade retention Keeping the percent of 3rd graders consistent with prior years, will give the teachers and the schools time to adjust, and not punish this year’s third graders.. For parents of 3rd graders this is good news, but there is a real risk that many third graders will be promoted to 4th grade without the required skills to succeed. For parents, there still needs to be a major effort to improve your child’s reading comprehension to be ready for a much more challenging fourth grade

  • Louise Wilson

    We have this in our state also. Is the goal to have all third graders reading and comprehending at the same level? Like little ducks in a row, peas in a pod? Guess they don’t know that in the real world, that isn’t going to happen. I understand that the world is more complicated these days and that learning is different, but kids and learning skills are the same. All kids are not the same and they will be punished for it.

  • Mrs. Mc

    You do realize that “this sensible approach” is keeping our kids to a bell curve all these years past, and will continue to do so. In spite of the State’s insistence that the goal has always been to have every child up to grade level, things are constantly being adjusted so that there is always a certain percentage of 1′s at the bottom and 5′s at the top.

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