Another Successful FCAT Opt Out Posted on August 28, 2012 by admin

United Opt Out National received the following letter regarding another successful FCAT opt out.  Royellen Moore, parent in Orlando, has also said she is happy to answer any questions about her experience. Please read the letter and also check our Florida section for more information. If you have questions for Royellen please post them in the comment section.

My son opted out of FCAT two years ago (the 2010/11 school year) in Orange County, Fl (Orlando). We were told, incorrectly, we couldn’t opt out because he’d fail 3rd grade, have to take summer remedial reading, be truant b/c he couldn’t be at school or he’d be tested, etc. All the usual stuff. 

My husband and I decided to skip further talks with the principal and District personnel (since they didn’t know the law) and go straight to the district’s legal adviser.  We met and on May 19th, 2011 received a letter indicating that yes, a student portfolio was an option to allow our son’s promotion to 4th grade. Our son didn’t take the FCAT, the school provided a student portfolio and he was promoted to fourth grade.

The fact that my husband and I are both lawyers helped of course- we came to the meeting with the relevant statutes, argued why they applied and provided a couple newspaper articles about others who had opted out of FCAT (including a school board member in another county). Legal, it seemed, was not expecting us to be so prepared (although I am sure they were warned we were lawyers).

If this would be helpful to another Florida family, please share. And in Orange County, Florida, the Orange County Public School’s legal’s Associate General Counsel, Eileen Fernandez, authored a May 19th, 2011 letter documenting that student portfolios are an acceptable way to allow promotion to fourth grade. (In Florida, you must show reading proficiency in third grade to be promoted to fourth grade.)

Thanks for all your hard work! I hated what the FCAT mania was doing to my son, his education and his school. I’m sure it is even worse now that teacher pay is tied to it and FCAT standards have to keep going up since there are only a couple years left before everyone has to be proficient. 

Royellen Moore
Orlando, FL


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29 thoughts on “Another Successful FCAT Opt Out”

  1. JP on November 16, 2012 at 8:40 pm said:Royellen,What’s involved in getting the student portfolio?

    Reply ↓

    • royellen moore on March 15, 2013 at 6:35 pm said:Hi JP,
      So sorry I did not see these comments when they came through. My son’s school used the mini- tests that they were giving the kids throughout the year to pretest for FCAT. They did not use any school work or teacher generated tests (but nothing I saw in the law relegated the portfolio to FCAT pretests.)Reply ↓
  2. Richard Bolam on February 16, 2013 at 4:44 am said:Royellen,I am very thankful on what you were able to do. I would like to start in my Kids elementary school and just need the right steps to take to start the ball rolling. I am the PTA president and feel I can get most if not all people to join in and not take the FCAT. I truely believe that is puts to much stress on kids and teachers and is not and actually picture of the students performance. Please contact me ASAP to discuss what I need and the letter I and many other parents need to send and where to make us opt out of the FCAT in orange county Florida. Thanks again and look forward to your responds

    Reply ↓

    • royellen moore on March 15, 2013 at 6:47 pm said:Richard,
      So sorry I did not see this comment either when you first posted it. You and I agree on the FCAT! We sent a short, polite letter to our principal saying we were choosing to opt our son out of FCAT and because we were advised he would be offered the test if he came to school, he would be staying out during the FCAT testing period despite being ready and willing be attend school. We stayed out during the FCAT testing period and returned when it was over. Our son was promoted to 4th grade on his year end report card. I think you have my contact information now. Let me know if you don’t.
      RoyellenReply ↓
  3. melinda russek on March 10, 2013 at 7:54 pm said:my daughter spent most of third grade stressed out and in turmoil to make sure she passed FCAT because the teacher snidely remarked she didn’t think she would last taking the test, and would give up. We had just moved from another school, so my daughter was a fish out of water as it is. She did pass the test, and took the writing version this year, the results are not out. In the future, I would prefer to opt out of this so she can focus on learning instead of studying for an arbitrary test. What statutes do I need to be aware of? I live in Pinellas County, Florida, and would like to be ready for fifth grade’s challenges.
    Thank you so much! I had only recently found out that a student can opt out of this test!Reply ↓
  4. Royellen Moore on March 15, 2013 at 7:07 pm said:Melissa,
    A friend asked for my FCAT folder (I am old school and still do things with paper). When it returns, I’ll let you know the Florida statutes (FS) that I found helpful two years ago when my son opted out. To get you started though, Florida statute 1008.22 deals with “student assessment for public schools”. Subsection (3) of that statute references FCAT. I’m sorry your daughter’s teacher made your daughter feel even more pressure. I hope things are much better this year!Reply ↓
  5. Pamela Svec on April 3, 2013 at 1:41 pm said:Royellen,
    Or however may help. Please post the Florida Statutes that reference FCAT! This would help everyone in Florida. My older daughter has no issue with the tests (but I do) but my younger is in 3rd grade and way too stressed over all of this. I would like to opt her out. My 6th grader had a friend who did successfully opt out of the FCAT last year. She is at a different school than my 3rd grader however. She just stayed home during all testing days. She informed the school she was going to do so. The school tried to threaten that she may have to take remedial classes and not get her electives. Nothing happened, she got all her middle school electives and was promoted to 6th grade.Reply ↓
  6. Pamela Svec on April 3, 2013 at 1:42 pm said:By the way, we are in Lee county Florida, in Cape Coral.
    PamReply ↓
  7. Michelle on April 3, 2013 at 8:24 pm said:Hi!I am glad I found your posting concerning opting out of the FCAT testing. I have a daughter who has a learning disability (time and dedication gets her to prove success. However, stress makes it very difficult for her to show success), and the thought of her having to go through the nightmare of taking the FCAT, puts stress on me as well. Once the “Student Portfolio” is received, who do we hand the information to? She will be in 3rd grade 2013-2014 school year.

    Reply ↓

    • Royellen on May 6, 2013 at 10:44 pm said:Hi Michelle,
      The school prepared our child’s portfolio and turned it into OCPS’s district office for review. We never saw it or participated in creating it.
      RoyellenReply ↓
  8. Ashley on April 5, 2013 at 3:24 pm said:Thank you for this! My husband and I are both lawyers, too, and we will want our kids opting out as well.Reply ↓
  9. rick r on April 8, 2013 at 2:46 pm said:Thank you for your insightful information. In your opinion do you think it’s late to opt out from testing? My 4th grader is stressing out over it. She has been doing well during the year and I don’t see a reason why the school officials-teachers will not allow students portfolio be used to advance to the next grade. What it’s my first step to avoid repercussions? Thanks again concern dad RickReply ↓
  10. Jeannine on April 27, 2013 at 4:35 pm said:Royellen,Thank you for the information regarding FCATs. I would also like to opt my daughters out next year and want to have all available information before doing so. I was reviewing the Statute that you referenced and it stated in subsection 8… Participation in the assessment program is mandatory for all students attending public school.’ My questions are 1. the statutes state based or county specific and 2. if this has since changed since you personally did this, what course of action do I have?

    Thank You,

    Reply ↓

    • Hilary on May 6, 2013 at 7:55 pm said:I too have a third grade son who was already held back last year. I fear that he will fail the tests again this year. He is 9 years old and HATES school and literally gets physically ill every morning. This is horrible! This is supposed to be the fun time. His teacher makes it worse as all she cares about is fcat..even after it is over. She has them doing fcat explorer in reading and science until 6/4 as homework. I am well educated and can’t even answer the questions, in addition it is time consuming. Please help. Like Jeannine I need a better understanding of where in the statutes I can opt out. I have printed them but all I see is “mandatory “. Thank you in Advance
      HilaryReply ↓
  11. Royellen on May 6, 2013 at 10:39 pm said:Hi Jeannine,
    The statutes are Florida state statutes (laws made by the Florida legislature). Yes, that was the law when we opted out. The statutes also did not list any sanctions for a student who did not participate in the mandatory assessment program. It was pointed out to us that Florida statutes required FCAT, we pointed out others in the state had opted out before us and the conversation turned to how would our child’s reading proficiency be proven.Reply ↓
  12. Jennifer M. on May 15, 2013 at 4:18 am said:How early did you make it known to the school you were opting out? Did you put together your child’s portfolio or was the school required to?I’m going up to my son’s school (also Orlando, one of the Avalon Park elementary schools) in the morning to get him removed from RTI, which they stated he is in to improve his testing for FCAT next year. He got 100% on accuracy and 4/5 on comprehension on the FAIR testing. They want him to score higher on FCAT. The teacher they send him to for remediation is just horrible, I’d throw the woman out of my house for the way she talks to the kids. This is doing no good for him and if their reason is FCAT skills, well, he doesn’t need it then. I’m unsure how they will react. I already had their afterschool program shut down so I’m not their favorite person already. I just want to make sure they will cooperate with me on opting out. A single mom is less intimidating than a couple of attorneys.

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    • Royellen on May 21, 2013 at 2:30 pm said:Jennifer,
      It was close to the test- I believe the week before testing started. We did not create the student portfolio. At a meeting with the principal where we verified we were choosing a student portfolio for our son’s evaluation, the school had a handout of Grade 3 Benchmarks (all language arts since reading must be established to move to 4th grade). There were 15 benchmarks- each needed three samples we were told. Our son had four benchmarks that needed another sample.
      He did additional testing to provide samples for the other four benchmarks. We never got any feeback on them or the portfolio nor did we do anything to add to the portfolio. Hope your meeting went well.
      RoyellenReply ↓
  13. susan on May 29, 2013 at 11:22 am said:My son took the FCAT but i knew it was going to be difficult for him but through the school year he got great grades and A/B Honor roll so is there a way i can get his school work accepted instead or is it too late as he took the test?thank you

    Reply ↓

  14. Christen on June 29, 2013 at 3:38 am said:My son became physically ill on the first day of FCAT and could not finish the test. He received good grades all year long but can not pass the standardized test. When he started kindergarten his birthday passed the cut off. The want to retain him this year and he will be 10 years old in third grade. Is there anything I can do so that he is not retained? I have an appointment with a private psychologist as I have been told to have him tested. I emailed the principle and left a message for the school board. Emotionally i believe retention will break my child. He is receiving private tutoring as well. I had no idea we could have opted out.Reply ↓
  15. Amy Boyle on July 6, 2013 at 2:19 am said:I am an accountant that enjoys law and have recently got my 9 year old an IEP. Finally! Lots of law and research, but I did it! He is being retained, per the FCAT scores, in 3rd this year. He made no lower than a C in all subjects.
    If I understand correctly, I just opt-out by not sending him and let them decide how to make the portfolio?
    He does great in class and has a hard time on the standardized tests.Reply ↓
  16. Ana on July 18, 2013 at 12:25 pm said:I feel bad I saw this page so late. My son took the FCAT and failed by one point. He was AB honor roll all year. He is already attending Summer School, however I want to know if is not to late for us to OPT out of the secont test at the end of the Summer and have the submitt his porfolio. I know they are working on one? I just don’t want him to take another crazy standarized test.Reply ↓
  17. Ana on July 18, 2013 at 7:39 pm said:What a nightmare!!! Now the school told me that for the porfolio, my son needed to pass all 42 passages given to him. He didn’t pass 2, so he must take the SAT test at the end of Summer School. Is that true? I mean, it doesn’t make sense that the went to Summer school, passed 40 out of 42 passages and still needs to take the SAT or he is retained? Why can they give him 2 extra passages to complete the porfolio?Reply ↓
  18. Dawn on August 15, 2013 at 12:14 am said:Hi my son did not pass the fcat in 3rd grade. He went to summer school and failed the Sat 10 not by much. The principal & I don’t get along at all. He has an IEP and he has tutoring. He doesn’t fit under the good cause law. I was never told about this opt out. Is it to late to do something for my son to be promoted. I tried private schools but they are so expensive even with the McRay scholarships. Help!!!Reply ↓
    • admin on August 24, 2013 at 3:33 am said:Dawn – Have you checked out the Florida opt out/refusal guide on our website? Also, contact our Florida opt out leader, Ceresta Smith at cerestas@yahoo.com.
      Peggy Robertson
      http://www.unitedoptout.comReply ↓

      • tony on September 15, 2013 at 8:46 pm said:I’ve tried contacting that ceresta smith and never hear anything back, I have a deaf child that is now repeating 32rd grade due to bs standardized test- I haven’t sent the letter in, cause I can’t seem to get any guidance on the steps, that I need to take, I joined the opt out on fb and it seems that there is not a lot of assistance and the school administration, is a bunch of bullies and won’t give up any information on what steps to take, I have been trying to get an i.e.p. meeting done cause my son met all the goals of that and is still repeating, so my question is whats the point of an i.e.p. if it isn’t going to help him advance, this is all very frustrating- I wish I could home school him, I wish I had the capability of doing that, I feel like the school system is a poison. Can any one offer any guidance, I would appreciate it.Reply ↓
Another Successful FCAT Opt Out

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