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What Diploma Path is Your Child On? Will Retention Push Him Off that Path?

02/12/09
by Sue Whitney

My 9 year old son, a child with autism, is in a 3rd grade inclusion class on a Basic Ed diploma path.

He is required to take the FCAT to determine whether he will progress to the 4th grade. His teacher told me he will not pass the FCAT and my only recourse was to pull him out of school the last 2 months of the year to avoid the test.

From K – 2 his report card stated ‘passed with instruction’. This year they will grade him the same as every other child in his class and he does not stand a chance. The Florida Statute requires mandatory retention.

Retention would be a major setback for him that I fear he will not easily recover from. What can I do to give my son every opportunity to get to 4th grade?

Don’t bet the farm on the elementary school teacher’s understanding of state and federal law.

I assume by “Basic Ed diploma” you mean something less than a standard diploma? There is nothing called a “Basic Ed diploma” on the Florida Department of Education website. http://facts23.facts.org/navigation/detail_ext/grad_req.do?pageId=4

  • You need to be very sure that you understand which diploma you have agreed to.

If there has been a misunderstanding of what you agreed to, get that straightened out now! I am guessing that since you do not know what the diploma is called, you may not have all the facts about it.

  • Look at his IEP to see what it says about how he will be tested.

If you, and the rest of the team, have determined he is not able to learn the Florida curriculum and should be taught an alternative curriculum, it is only appropriate to test him on the alternative curriculum he is being taught.

If you still have questions after reading the IEP,

  • Write a letter to the Director of Special Education for your school district briefly explaining your son’s situation.

Include a copy of your son’s IEP so the Director can see what your son’s program consists of without having to look up the file.

  1. Ask what the testing procedure will be for your son.
  2. Ask if he will be retained if he does not score proficient on the test the district intends to give him.
  3. Request a written response to your letter.

If you do not agree with what you are being told or do not understand what you are being told, contact the people listed below.

If you have any problems, contact these people in FL*:

Address: Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities
2671 Executive Center, Circle West
Webster Building, Suite 100
Tallahassee, FL 32301-5024
Phone: 850-488-9071 \ 800-342-0823 (in state) \ 800-346-4127 TDD
Fax: 850-488-8640
E-mail: info@advocacycenter.org <mailto:p.wear@advocacycenter.org>
Website: http://www.advocacycenter.org

Tip: Bring a well mannered friend with you to the meeting if it will help you concentrate, stay focused, or take better notes.

*If you have the same concerns, but are in a different state, contact your Advocacy and Protection Office.

Use the Yellow Pages for Kids at http://www.yellowpagesforkids.com/help/legal.advocacy.htm to find assistance or this state Protection and Advocacy directory from the National Disability Rights Network http://www.napas.org/aboutus/PA_CAP.htm

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5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jaya 11/13/12 at 11:27 pm

    My son has special needs and did 2yrs of PreK in special ed. Now he is 5yrs and he is still in PreK, the school says he does not have Kindergarten skills. The school suspended my son for his behaviors, with out providing FBA or BIP. I moved to a new district after fighting for 2months. He is at PreK at the new school as well and the IEP is next month, hopefully they will put him in kindergarten atleast for a 1/2day. He knows his ABC’s, shapes, colors, numbers, behavior is the main concern. Instead of FBA they retained him even at kindergarten level.

  • Retention would be a major setback for my son that I fear he will not easily recover from. What can I do to give my son every opportunity to get to 4th grade?

  • 3 Adrianna 05/17/11 at 4:30 pm

    WHAT DIPLOMA??
    In the State of Alaska, one Legislator got up of the Floor and started complaining about Special Ed Students getting the “same diploma” as everyone else. His words “they do not deserve a diploma”. Hence, a law was passed. If the Special Ed Students get a Certificate of Attendance or Certificate of Participation! Now what they do, to help spec Ed students, they transition them from their Senior Year to a Vocational/Academic Program until they have aged out.
    At least that is what they are doing with my daughter and believe me, I have fought, argues, pleaded, etc, nothing helps, they do what they want and only ONE person in the “direct administration” for K-12 has any Qualification regarding Special Education, he used to be a teacher, however, everyone else that I have talked with, has no idea what these kids need.

  • 4 Annette 03/17/09 at 8:11 am

    I agree with Nancy about the portfolio option in FL. A child cannot be retained on the basis of only one test: FCAT. If there is a portfolio which shows that the child is keeping up with the curriculum in the classroom, then the child cannot be retained.

  • 5 Nancy 03/14/09 at 6:20 am

    I believe there is a portfolio option in Florida. You may want to ask your district about it.

    Regardless of that, you should definitely complain. There is no way you should have to pull your kid out for 2 months. That’s just not right!