Florida program to retain students may result in increased dropout problems

Utah State Board of Education Member Kim Burningham

Kim Burningham, Utah State Board of Education, District 5

Fascinating education studies reveal some unique findings

Current news about education concerns from various sources is fascinating. In a series of four blog posts, I will share several interesting bits:

Highly applauded Finnish education system emphasizes public education equity rather than choice

Strong teachers produce remarkable and not always discussed advantages for students

Online education has its place, but is not as successful as live instruction

• Florida program to retain students may result in increased dropout problems

“The worst part is what happens to those third graders who are retained and removed from the 4th grade testing process. They are labeled with a finality that has become a proven drop-out predictor.” –Kathleen Oropeza

Florida program to retain students may result in increased dropout problems

In a blog post several months ago, I compared education results in Florida with those in Utah. Some politicians have cited remarkable improvement in the fourth grade reading scores in Florida as measured by the NAEP test (also known as the Nation’s Report Card). Unfortunately, many of those same observers failed to point out that Florida decided to hold back a large percentage of third grade students who were not adequately reading (most of these were black and Hispanic students). This fact had an obvious impact on improved scores in the fourth grade.

When I shared these comparisons, apparently my post made its way all the way to Florida where Kathleen Oropeza co-founder of Florida’s “Fund Education Now” responded (in Comments). She added to the skepticism I had felt about holding back students. Oropeza wrote that the Florida program to retain students may have had negative effects on children. She said:

“The worst part is what happens to those third graders who are retained and removed from the 4th grade testing process. They are labeled with a finality that has become a proven drop-out predictor.”

Florida’s increased reading scores is definitely related to holding students back, a process whose value is debatable.

Kim Burningham represents District 5 on the Utah State Board of Education. Prior to joining the State Board of Education, he served for 15 years in the Utah Legislature and was an educator for many years, twice named Outstanding Teaching of the Year.

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1 comment to Florida program to retain students may result in increased dropout problems

  • Ellen Walker

    – If you raise the bar, you also have to teach the kids to jump higher

    – If you evaluate schools/teachers mainly on test scores, you will get schools that are better at creating higher test scores, not necessarily more educated students