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My child didn't pass the FCAT, now what?
How to get your child through FCT Testing
A friend of mine came to me about two weeks before the end of the school year in a panic. Her son, a third grader at a local public school, did not pass the FCAT reading test. She was devastated. Now what? Does he automatically repeat the third grade? What does that do for his self esteem? What about the fact that he'd received good marks for reading on his report card? All were very valid questions.
First, failing a portion of the FCAT isn't the end of the world. And don't let anyone tell you that it means your child must repeat a grade. There are other options available to you. First, there is something the schools call a portfolio that they can put together on your child. It shows the progress he or she has made throughout the year, as well as his or her scores on other standardized tests the students take. If your child has shown significant progress throughout the year and if he has received at least average grades in the subject area he or she failed, chances are the school will allow the child to move to the next grade.
Most school district also have a summer program your child can participate in (if the portfolio route doesn't work), If they attend the program and score well on a test at the end of the session, they can be allowed to move to the next grade level.
My advice is to research the options open to you in your school district. If you can't get assistance contact the Florida Department of Education and explain your situation. Copies of past FCAT tests are also available online, go to: http://fcat.fldoe.org/ to learn more. There are also several free educational websites for children that may contain information that can help your child prepare for the FCAT.
Bottom line: fight for your child; go to the school board if you have to - and don't be afraid to ask questions. At the same time however, be honest with yourself. If your child has scored below level in math or reading during the school year and if you know they struggle with it, there may be just cause for them to repeat a grade. Know your child and do what you think is best, just remember there are options and you are entitled to know and understand all of them.
By the way, you may be wondering what happened to my friend's son - he was able to go on to the fourth grade! Because he received decent marks in reading during the year and his portfolio showed progress, the school allowed him to move on. He is attending the reading camp this summer though, because his mother recognizes that reading comprehension takes a lot of effort for him. I can't wait to hear how successful he will be when school begins in August.