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Opt Out Florida Expects Boost in Support From Florida Supreme Court Ruling

July 18th, 2017 by Jake Stofan
A group of parents suing the state after their children were told they would have to repeat the 3rd grade for refusing to take a standardized language arts exam have gotten more bad news from the State Supreme Court.
The court has refused to hear their case, which means if they want to sue, they will have to individually sue their home school districts.
School Districts have the option to keep a portfolio of students work to be used in lieu of standardized tests.
In this case the school districts didn’t take the option and the parents say that caused their kids to not be able to move on to the next grade.
The parents sued independently, but are part of a group called The Opt Out Florida Network.
It’s an organization of parents who feel standardized testing should be removed from state law.
Beth Larsen Overholt, head of the Leon County Chapter has had her children opt out of tests for years.
“I am protesting against the accountability system and the policies of the DOE,” said Overholt.
The Supreme Court refused to take the case after an appeals court ruled against the parents.
The parents had their children open the test booklets but not answer questions.
The standardized language arts test, is required to be taken to enter fourth grade.
When their children were going to be held back for refusing the test they sued.
In the ruling the justices wrote, “The test can only achieve that laudable purpose if the student meaningfully takes part in the test by attempting to answer all of its questions to the best of the student’s ability. Anything less is a disservice to the student.”
Opt Out Florida says the decision isn’t a set back, in fact the organization expects to see a spike in support as a result.
“Or they just see the ‘accounta-baloney’ that’s going on in our schools,” said Overholt.
The Florida School Boards Association says although the portfolio option is still optional, many school districts are beginning to adopt the policy so more students aren’t held back.
“Districts are trying very hard to respect the desire of the parent as well as ensure the student is able to demonstrate mastery of the content,” said Andrea Messina, Executive Director of FSBA.
We reached out to the Department of Education for Comment on this story, failed to receive a response in time.
There is still no word as to what the parents involved in the suit will do next. One parent told us the group is waiting for direction from their attorney.

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