Saturday, May 27, 2023

Rep. Lynn Releases Statement On 3rd Grade Retention

Susan Lynn
From Rep. Susan Lynn, May 26, 2023- I have heard from many parents and I want to thank everyone for contacting me and for sharing your thoughts and feedback on the fourth grade promotion requirements for students who did not score proficient on the 2023 English Language Arts (ELA) portion of their third grade TCAP test this spring.

This intervention law was conceived and passed three years ago. By it, Tennessee established a statewide goal to ensure students have the strong reading skills they need by third grade to be successful. Local school districts were not only informed but made partners in this tremendous statewide effort. Public-school teachers across our great state helped create the Tennessee State Standards and create the questions on the TCAP test.

In 2021, the Tennessee General Assembly updated state law and provided funding to local school districts to ensure they had the funds to provide all students the support they need to read and perform on grade level. The 2023-2024 state budget carries on this tremendous support to our districts.

Due to this preparation, some truly impressive results have been achieved. Congratulations to Collierville Schools - 73.55% proficient; Maryville City Schools - 74.68% proficient; Alcoa City Schools - 75%; and Arlington Community Schools - 77.52% proficient on the 3rd grade ELA TCAP spring 2023 test.

These results are exciting and while statewide scores are improving, overall, 40% of third grade students in Tennessee scored proficient on their ELA TCAP test in spring 2023— that means that a majority of third grade students did not score proficient. However, the law provides options for free additional learning support and opportunities to support each student’s success and promotion to the fourth grade.

With this law, local school districts are responsible for determining which third grade students are eligible for potential retention (or if they meet the exceptions outlined in the law). Families of students who scored “approaching” or “below” proficiency are informed by the school district of the various promotion pathways for their student which include the TCAP retake opportunity, summer camps and/or fourth grade tutoring (see chart PATHWAYS TO 4TH GRADE).

Families of students scoring “approaching” on the TCAP or TCAP retest can request that their child advance to 4th grade and receive tutoring help until the student has reached grade level. They also have the option to request an appeal of a local retention decision on behalf of their third-grade student. The form to submit an appeal for the department’s consideration opens May 30, 2023, and closes June 30, 2023.

Parents are encouraged to reach out to their student’s school district to get more information about their student’s academic performance and the pathways to fourth grade including local schedules for summer camps and/or the option of 4th grade tutoring supports.

This is an important law whose results are already displaying that we really can change the trajectory of public education in Tennessee.

Statewide resources, including the Appeals Form, are posted on the department’s website here:


What are state education standards?

The Tennessee Constitution declares that every child in Tennessee has a constitutional right to a free public-school education. To secure that right, state education standards ensure equal protection under the law. The standards enumerate exactly what every Tennessee public-school student will be taught in any given grade at minimum. Great schools will far exceed the standards, good schools will meet them, and poor schools will struggle to meet this minimum standard for instruction. Every parent has the right to know and can learn in advance exactly what their child will be taught in each grade by reviewing the standards on the state Department of Education’s website. The standards are plain; they quite literally state that a first grader will learn to read and understand words of a certain length, learn to write certain words with a given number of letters, learn addition and subtraction. It is the textbooks and supplemental workbooks that flesh out the standards with instruction and exercises for students. Unfortunately, it is also those materials that often insert politics or ideology, not the state standards.


What is standardized testing?

To ensure students are receiving their constitutionally protected education, and to measure the results of the taxpayers’ hard-earned money, the state of Tennessee requires just one test: the TCAP. The TCAP tests students at the end of the year to see how well they learned the elements in the state standards for their grade. State lawmakers often hear from families that the students are tested numerous times a month. Those tests are a local decision and are not required by the state.


The state of Tennessee’s budget provides over 50% of local school districts’ education budget. The federal government provides just over 7% of funding, and county governments provide the rest of the funding to school districts generally through the property tax. The state portion of school funding amounts to nearly $9 billion."

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