Polk Moms

Connecting moms in Polk County, Fla.

3rd Grade FCAT - what options do I have if my son fails???


My son is in 3rd grade he receive the grades this wk with A's B's and C's but with a note that read:  "Difficulty meeting promotion requirements" / Not working to ability in reading or math

His reading grade went from D to C

HIs math has been C all year round.

I don't want my son retained in 3rd grade he got tutoring with a teacher paid by federal help; he starts tutoring again today for reading and vocabulary.

My relation with the school principal is NOT good; and I'm pretty sure that I'm not the only parent with the same issue; so because of the bad relation I don't think that she will help my child.

Do Polk County have the summer school?  If so where and how I can enroll him?  and Do he qualifies to use the summer school in case that he fail the test.

A lot of 3rd graders will fail the test this year; polk county has the worst schools in florida.  What are the parent options to stop this.



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Hello.  Quick question.  How do you go about getting tutoring with a teacher paid for by federal help?  A friend of mine suggested in the past for our son, but they do offer tutoring usually during the year for FCAT's.  I know he would benefit with this as he is ESE and is just below grade level in Reading and Writing/English.

Now as for the FCAT...I hate to say that there is no real way around it.  When our son was in 3rd grade he took the FCAT (even being ESE, he did have extra time to take it and he was in a room with just a teacher so no distractions).  We were faced with the same thing with being retained possibly.  The only way they will not be retained is if he was already retained in kindergarten previously.  Now if he does fail, yes he can go through summer school (need to find what school in your area will have summer school).  Not sure if you have to pay for him to go to summer school (I hear conflicting stories so ask the guidance counselor at the school).  They will cram all of 3rd grades work into 9 weeks I believe it is, and they get to take the FCAT again.  If they fail that, then they will stay back no ifs ands or buts about it.  If you think he can handle all of 3rd grade over, compressed in the 9 weeks and pass the FCAT then it doesn't hurt.  We knew our son wouldn't be able to handle that.

Yes our son did fail (by 3 points), but for some reason the state or whoever is overseeing the FCAT's allowed some kids to retake the test.  He was one of the few to retake the test.  This time he passed it by 5 points.  He was happy to be able to go on with his friends (although some did fail and stayed back, and some stayed back in kindergarten so they were able to go on).

Now in 8th grade they need to take another FCAT that will determine if they advance or get left back.  If they were retained in kindergarten or 3rd grade, but failed the 8th grade test they can still go forward.  Heard that they take another one before graduation as well to determine if they can graduate or not.  Knew a person who's daughter was straight A's, had all her stuff ready for graduation, but failed that FCAT and did not get to graduate.  She went to summer school, passed the test and they mailed her the diploma. 

Talk to the guidance counselor and see what they suggest.  There is no way around the test or opting out of it.  Not even those in ESE has a choice.  Home schooling is also subject to taking the test.  Only thing to do is pray that they decide to stop the tests (like they are saying will happen eventually). 

First off it is not all of third grade. It is a reading summer school. There is no charge for this summer school. This is not a Polk County mandate. It is a Florida State Law that they must pass the reading portion of FCAT in third grade to pass. There are some exceptions: having already been retained in previous grades, not having been in this country long enough (and sometimes this one depends on whether they failed because of language or not). Some of the children who do the summer school pass. They are not given the same test and it helps. 

It is also true that you must pass the reading and math portion of the 10th grade test to graduate but that is changing to end of course tests for Algebra and other subjects. 

In order to get tutoring paid for by federal money you have to be at a Title 1 school, your child has certain criteria he or she needs to meet and there is only so much money for this and when the money or slots available are gone then there is no more tutoring available. 

Make sure your son is doing all of his homework, and reading nightly. Also, make sure during testing her gets plenty of rest, a good breakfast and encouragement. Don't show him how nervous you are and by all means build him up and let him know you believe he will pass the test. 

I read that the FCAT is making the questions even more difficult this year too. I am nervous about it as well, because my son is also in 3rd grade. I currently have a private math tutor for him, and they do pull him out of PE and/or other specials at least once a week for in school math tutoring. I don't know if it has anything to do with him formerly being ESE and currently having an IEP...I think they do that for all struggling students at his school, since it is magnet. I asked a parent with older children about being retained due to failing the FCAT and she said they only retain you if you fail the reading, not the math portion. I am doubly scared too, because his little sister is due to start kindergarten in the fall and from what I understand, if he is retained (due to FCAT) she will no longer have a seat at the same school. I will have to reapply. I also read that Jeb Bush made a lot of money off of the FCAT when he made it a law, because he was involved in the company that makes the tests. Never looked into that, but with the way politics work, I wouldn't be surprised!

When scores are received, students who achieve a Level 1 score in 3rd grade will have the option of attending summer school and passing an alternative assessment, not the FCAT. YOu do not have to pass the FCAT; you just cannot be in the bottom level.  Generally, sites for the summer program are selected strategically around the county based on need.

You can read with your son daily. Have him read to you and ask questions about what he is reading to help his comprehension improve. Without asking for specifics, what can you do to improve your relationship with the school? Students' attitudes towards school will feed off their parents' attitudes.

I have twins that are 12 now. But when they were in 3rd grade we were worried that one of them migt not pass the fcat. The school was concerned. So i actually pulled them out of public school in January of the 3rd grade year and enrolled them in private school where they do not take fcats. Then enrolled back to public school for 4th grade. Didnt want to take the chance that obe might pass and the other fail. Hard choice but wasnt gambling with my kids future.

My oldest son failed the FCAT in 3rd grade. (now in 7th).  In hindsight, it was the best thing that ever happened to him (being held back).  Repeating 3rd grade reinforced his comprehension skills and helped him mature a little bit before moving on to 4th.  HOWEVER, it affected his self esteem so so much. Kids at that age are not very understanding and when his buddies moved on to 4th and he didn't he felt very alone. It wasn't until he started in a new school that I believe he viewed it as a fresh start and really blossomed.  I HATE the FCAT but I must admit being held back did help my son's education.  When you fail the FCAT in 3rd you can go to a reading camp for 6 weeks at select locations.  At the end of the 6 weeks kids take a SAT10 in place of the FCAT.  If they pass this test, they move on to 4th.

NOW, I get to go through FCAT again with my youngest who is now in 3rd grade. He is ESE, on a 504 and an IEP. Has ADHD along with speech and language delays. He is pulled 3 or 4 times a week for speech/lang therapy as well as works with a reading coach at school.  I also have a private reading tutor that we work with twice a week.  To tie things in we read every night together. I have him read to me and I read to him so that he listens to the fluency and the enunciation.  I am BEYOND paranoid what this FCAT will bring.  Last week they took a mock FCAT test based on 2006 FCAT test. We were warned that it's not the same test as standards have changed but it would give us a good indication.  He got a solid 3. 

I have decided that if he fails the FCAT, i'm pulling him out of public school.  I won't subject him to this again.  It's a double whammy when you fail the FCAT you fail the school year and in our case, we loose the spot at his charter school.  I pray that I won't have to face this and hope that all the dedication and support we are giving him will be the bridge that helps him pass this test.

I remind him daily that he is extremely smart and beautiful and that I believe in him. 

I had three boys all with learning problems an two of them was retained. That was a bad mistake! If you think your son or daughter might be retained then take them out of that school an enroll them into a private school or home school them. The FCAT is not what Florida needs in their school. Teachers teach FCAT instead of teaching what should be taught in schools. Retaining a child does nothing but destroy a child's self esteem that they will carry with them through out their whole life. If I had it to do over I would not allow my child to be retained, their future is more important than Florida's FCAT. 

Thank you so much for all your help with my question; I will do whatever I have to do to help my boy.  I did tried the private school but is too late in my area no space; he is improving and I can prove that; We will put him on GOD's hands and at the end I will fight all the proof with the principal or the school board.  But what I really think is that parents like us should start circulating a letter to the state to the commisioners and mayors about our concerns; without letting people that does not have kids to elect/give opinions.  That way we can take this to they attention - if any in here know an attorney that can help with an idea and collect signatures of parent will be great to start it now and not later; I'm open to collect signatures at my son school.


You still have a great deal of learning time before the FCAT. I would try having your son  working on FCATExplorer.com 2-3X per week. This is a fun and interactive way to practice reading skills. In addition, you could go on the FLDOE website, download and review previously released FCAT test questions. The new FCAT 2.0 is written in a much more  difficult way. Teachers are given "Stem" questions, which are written in the same language as the test. You might ask your child's teacher if she/he is willing to give you a copy of these questions. You could then practice  these questions while reading AR books, or other types of text. You might also consider going to Teacher's Exchange, and purchasing a workbook with FCAT/ Florida test practices. I know Steck and Vaughan makes an excellent one, with the questions phrased in the FCAT 2.0 stem question format. Although many parents do not like AR, it is a great resource for testing comprehension. I would suggest your child, depending on reading level, be earning between 1-2 points weekly, and reading for thirty minutes per night. Sitting for a 70-80 minute test can be hard, so it is important for a child to build their endurance, with a strict 30 minute reading time with no interruptions. If your child has Odyssey at their school, you might also want to check out the State Simulation tests under the comprehension section. Vocabulary is also important. Discuss words with prefixes and suffixes, as well as root words. There are a lot of fun vocabulary games on Between the Lions website- check out Synonym Sam. Another third grade vocabulary pleaser is the Word Girl videos on Pbskids.org. Before the video clips they will tell you what words you will learn as a result of the video. Pause the video, write down the words, and add them to a notebook. Use these words in conversations.  Talk about the opposite/similar/same meaning of words ( the FCAT 2.0 uses these words as opposed to synonym and antonym), for example, you could say, "the author of this book uses the word fragile in this sentence, what is a word that has the same meaning as the word fragile?" Discuss the genre of library books, and the author's purpose for writing the story. Is it a non-fiction text? How can you tell? 

I would say that 30 minutes would be appropriate to start with third graders mid-year. Some schools require 30 minutes of reading at the beginning of the third grade year, Glad you found some of it helpful!

Sorry that I am just seeing this! I agree that sometimes being retained helps build better skills. However, I have recently found that a child can opt out of the FCAT. Do your research! Again I'm sorry for just seeing this and I hope it will help in the future.

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