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Florida Students Must “Qualify” to Take the Fourth-grade NAEP

August 25, 2015

Jeb Bush wants to be president. So, it is important that he sell his Florida education reforms as a success.

However, when test-score-based education reforms are put on display, one should seek out “the rest of the story.” Such is true when Florida’s fourth-grade NAEP scores are showcased

According to a post written by Jeb Bush’s right-hand, Patricia Levesque, in October 2014, Florida has made marvelous, gap-closing gains, particularly on the fourth-grade NAEP:

Florida Minority Students Outperforming the Nation: In 2013, Florida outperformed the national average in every subgroup for fourth-grade reading.

  • Florida’s fourth-grade low-income readers rank first in the nation in reading.

  • Florida’s black fourth-grade students outperform their peers nationally by more than half a grade level in reading.

  • Hispanic fourth-grade students outperform the average student in 38 states and their peers by almost two full grade levels, according to NAEP reading test.

  • Low-income Hispanic fourth-grade student achievement improved more than one grade level from 2003-2013 according to the 2013 NAEP reading test.

  • Florida’s eighth-grade black students rank 7th nationally in reading and are tied with two other states for 11th in eighth-grade math.

What Levesque does not include is “the rest” of the fourth-grade NAEP story, which involves high student retention rates in third grade based upon state test results, a practice that has been part of Florida law since 2003.

Retaining students who cannot pass state tests in third grade artificially “improves” the academic ability of Florida’s fourth graders. Bush will likely not be featuring such information as he publicly pats himself on the back for such “achievements.”

In April 2015, the Florida law regarding third grade retention was modified to allow districts to decide how to approach the issue. The change in the law does not end Florida’s third-grade retention, but it does allow for third graders scoring in the “bottom quintile” (lowest 20 percent) of state tests to be promoted if they meet one of seven possible exemptions.

For now, Bush is able to coast on fourth-grade NAEP “gains” that were arguably influenced by notable third-grade retention. As the June 2015 Orlando Sentinel notes:

For 12 years, Florida’s third-grade reading test was a high-stakes part of elementary school life.

Third-graders who failed the exam could be denied promotion to fourth grade, as nearly 16,000 were statewide last year. [Emphasis added.]

What one must also consider is who, exactly, is being retained. It seems that “gap closure” on the fourth-grade NAEP is further influenced by the likelihood that children of color are the ones most likely to be retained in third grade. (See here and here and here.)

Via its third-grade retention law, it is as though Florida has its students “qualify” to take the fourth-grade NAEP– certainly an important part of “the rest” of the Jeb Bush ed reform story.

jeb bush 5


Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

She also has a second book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?, published on June 12, 2015.

both books

  1. OPT OUT OF NAEP. This is one test you DO NOT have to take and there is no way they can hurt your child’s grade if they do not take this test. OPT OUT!!! Let your school know now. The list of selected schools by the US Dept. of Education is kept secret so no matter what school you child goes to just give you school the letter NOW. NO NAEP, NO ACT, NO end of year high stakes tests!!!

  2. Just as the charters do to artificially inflate scores. Lovely!! Such a moral country we live in. And caring, too.

  3. Michelle permalink

    If a politician cheats on standardized testing, does he go to prison for 20 years too?

  4. opt out of all of it. If the teacher doesn’t grade it or create it, my kids don’t take it. The only exception at this moment is iReady. The teacher and I discussed it this morning. iReady is not used for 4th grade teacher evaluation (which is my big beef with HST). I told her until it’s no longer helpful to her or Olivia, we’d try it.

    No benchmarks not created or graded by the teacher.
    No SAT10
    No FSA

    join us on facebook Opt Out Orlando and help us fight for our children’s education. You can search OPT OUT and your county as well. We have 37 county pages!

    Refuse to feed the data machine!

    Have a great school year!

  5. We have been following how test scores are manipulated in Florida. See two posts. They will make you smile or grimace.

    This is a comparison of Florida’s 4th and 8th grade results. See Here Come Those Statistics Again. Is Florida’s Achievement Ranked 7th or 22nd or 28th?.

    See also: Testing, Maybe we should require statistics

  6. I would urge people not to opt out of the NAEP if asked to participate, although I certainly respect that choice. The reason is, I believe that one way to counteract this need to give the tests every year as a reason to monitor progress is negated by the use of the NAEP as a random sampling that is low stakes because students are not being prepped for it, not given notice very close to it, and have no consequences to not doing well on it, so do not need to stress. Trends can be addressed without any punitive measures. We are not going to ever be able to dodge “accountability” of the public expenditure of our education dollars with some sort of testing beyond the teachers. However, the computers, the extended prep, the teacher evaluation, the retention of students, the teaching to the test, the threats to all of the real stakeholders (students and teachers) are not part of the NAEP. It is true that the third grade retention has affected the fourth grade scores and they need to answer to that, but it isn’t about NAEP, it is about how Florida does things and that should be addressed. Just my two cents.

  7. 6th grade students reading at the 4th grade level called “Proficient.” See how parents are duped by PARCC score reports, NWEA MAP score reports, and state score reports.

  8. termakasih infonya, sangat bermanfaat , Adriana

  9. The NEAP, being in the hands of competent statisticians, has or will either modify the Florida results, or dump them altogether.

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