Almost 1,000 Tennessee Students Retained Due to Third-Grade Reading Law

by Jon Styf


Tennessee ultimately retained 898 statewide due to its new third-grade reading retention law.

Less than 40% of third-graders statewide scored high enough on the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program test to be promoted to fourth grade while many of the others used the various pathways to advance allowed by the state.

Those pathways will increase this spring when students who score “approaching” on the test also score within the top 50th percentile on a statewide benchmark reading test.

“In Tennessee, we saw the product of our state’s comprehensive early literacy strategy earlier this spring when we finally achieved 40% of third graders who are considered to be proficient in English Language Arts. This is the result of strong implementation of smart policy to support our youngest students to all become capable readers,” Department of Education Commissioner Lizzette Reynolds said in a statement along with the report. “However, there is still a long way to go to achieve the best for all students, and now we must keep our focus and momentum when it comes to prioritizing early reading skills and implementing policies and programs with fidelity.”

For this year, however, the Tennessee Department of Education released a new report showing that 3,344 (4.47%) students advanced by passing the TCAP retake while 1,532 (2.05%) students advanced by scoring “approaching,” attending a summer reading camp and showing adequate growth during that camp.

The state also approved 7,146 (9.56%) parent appeals for students to advance while 10,620 (14.21%) advance due to a disability or suspected disability that impacts reading.

Another 2,712 (3.63%) advanced because they are an English learner with less than two years of ELA instruction while 2,119 (2.84%) advanced because the student was previously retained.

Another 2,314 students (3.1%) advanced due to a locally determined exemption.

More than 12,000 overall students also advanced after committing to tutoring throughout fourth grade.

Those included 8,086 (10.82%) who scored “approaching” on TCAP and will test for adequate growth at the end of fourth grade and another 3,970 (5.31%) who scored “below expectations,” attended summer reading camp and will test for adequate growth at the end of fourth grade.

The statewide data showed that 2,296 students did not enroll in fourth grade this year and another 59 were not reported.

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Jon Styf is an award-winning editor and reporter of The Center Square who has worked in Illinois, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida and Michigan in local newsrooms over the past 20 years, working for Shaw Media, Hearst and several other companies.




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One Thought to “Almost 1,000 Tennessee Students Retained Due to Third-Grade Reading Law”

  1. Randy

    100% of Tennessee students almost get an education in public schools. Meanwhile, 100% of academic administrators create more policy and programs that increase the cost of administration every year.