In addition to learning how many of Florida’s third graders are in danger of failing the grade and having to repeat – about 48,500 of them, we now also have a peek into how many students opted out.
In third grade at least, it appears the number has fallen by just the tiniest bit from .11 percent of more than 220,000 students in 2015 to .10 percent in 2016.
Florida does not provide a box for parent or child to check if they wish to forego testing. The common advice to parents wishing to have their protest count and keep their children from having to make up the test some other time, has been to have the student open or log on to the test and then stop without answering any question.
Such an incomplete test would earn a label NR2 – not enough questions were answered to label the test “attempted.” But a test could also be labeled NR2 when, for example, a child got sick after starting the test and had to leave.
UPDATE: Opt Out Florida Network co-founder and parent Cindy Hamilton out of Orange County reports that looking at the NR2 labels alone is short of the full story. The grade 3 test is a paper test, and some students who have opted out and, fore example, left the school rather than sit and stare at a wall while classmates work, see their tests labeled something other than NR2.
According to information released by the Department of Education at the request of the Palm Beach Post, the number of NR2s on the third grade Florida Standards Assessment for English and language arts went from 229 last year to 224 this year. (We have not yet requested the full report with all of the so-called N-codes. )
In 2015, Broward recorded the most NR2s in the grade three ELA/FSA with 30. This year, Hillsborough topped the list with 25 of its 17,441 tests.
Palm Beach County, where 15,492 students took this test, 11 NR2s were recorded in 2015, and 14 in 2016.
The grade 3 FSA for reading and writing is only one of 14 FSAs in reading and math through grade 10.
Last year, the number of NR2s across all state tests nearly quadrupled over the previous year, according to the Florida Department of Education’s count, going from 5,597 in 2014 to 20,709 in 2015. Still the test participation rates for all of the state’s tests remained high with most NR2s on the Algebra 2 end of course exam – and then that was only 1.42 percent of test takers.