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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3rd Grade reading proficiency district averages released. Metro Nashville has a proficiency rate of 29.68 while next door Williamson County has a proficiency rate of 71.71.

by Rod Williams, May 27, 2023- The state has released the results of testing of reading proficiency among third grader. The test is called ELA which stands for English Language Arts.  In January 2021, Tennessee legislators passed a law requiring third graders who do not score “met” or “exceeded expectations” on the test to attend a summer reading camp or tutoring program, or to repeat the grade. Then Covid hit and remote learning and there was a sharp drop in learning and the legislature modified the law, passing HB0437 which tweaked the 2021 law by putting fewer third graders at risk of being held back.  Under this revision the ELA test is not the only factor determining a third graders fate but is still the most important factor. You can read more about this issue at this link

The ELA result averages have been released for each school district across the state. This list does not have a feature for sorting so one cannot rank the districts easily. The results vary fairly widely from district to district. Arlington Community Schools has a proficiency rate of 77.52% while Haywood County Schools has a proficiency rate of 18%.  The Achievement School District has a proficiency rate of 10.12% The Achievement School District are those failing schools that have been taken over by the State.

Metro Nashville has a proficiency rate of 29.68 while next door Williamson County has a proficiency rate of 71.71.

Below is the full list:

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Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Nashville Ranked 61st best place to live. Score dropped from previous years. Knoxville and Chattanooga ranked higher.

by Rod Williams, May 24, 2023 - U.S. News analyzed the 150 most populous metro areas to find the best places to live. The report does not clarify if by "metro area " they mean the metropolitan statistical area (MSA) or not; I assume they do.  While in a MSA the actual city of that name may be a terrible place to live, it may have some wonderful bedroom communities and small towns within the area. This makes it hard to generalize about an MSA. Remember that the Nashville MSA includes Brentwood and Franklin. And it includes the Williamson County schools which are some of the best in the State, and Nashville Schools which are some of the worst. So, keeping this in mind, a comparison of populous metro areas is still informative.

"To make the top of the list, a place had to have good value, be a desirable place to live, have a strong job market and a high quality of life," U.S. News reports. Much of the criteria is certainly subjective. Look at the methodology, however and the subjectivity may be in the weight given to the individual factors A lot of data goes into determining the factors. I don't think even the data-driven factors tell the whole story.

What the factors cannot measure objectively is what your priorities are. While Knoxville is 90 minuets away from the Smokies, Chattanooga is right in the middle of beautiful mountains. That would be a plus for me. It would boost Chattanooga's score. In looking at the whole list, I would rate cities near an ocean higher than a comparable city inland. These factors, of course, are subjective.  One person may give a city a plus for being close to the ocean another would give it a minus for the threat of hurricanes. 

Nashville's ranking has fallen. Nashville had a score of 25 last year and a score of 30 in 2021. I don't know that Nashville is worse than a year ago or two years ago.  Maybe it is but maybe all cities are getting worse and other cities are getting worse at a slower rate.  

I have always been bullish on Nashville. One of the things I like about this city is the opportunities for political engagement. There are interesting speakers appearing somewhere in town on a regular basis and being the capital there are advocacy groups and think tanks. You can find opportunities to learn, engage, and socialize with people who care about public policy. That is a factor that is hard to meassure.

Another factor that is high on my list is the creative vibe and opportunities to enjoy music. To me things like, Musician Corner, Full Moon Picking Party, WMOT's Finally Friday, various writers' nights, and great shows at the Ryman and other venues add to the desirability of Nashville. That is hard to quantify.

What I do not like about Nashville is the local effect of the national polarization and intolerance. I do not like that Nashville is a city that embraces woke progressive policy positions. If not for the State keeping Metro on a short leash, we would have much worse governance. We missed by one vote last year massively cutting the police budget. The city attempted to become a sanctuary city a few years ago. Also, the Council attempted to impose a scheme called "inclusionary zoning" that mandates developers build affordable housing.  This policy has been shown to actually increase housing cost and reduce housing supply but if not for the State, the city would have adopted it. Metro's School Board almost always opposes school choice and excellence in education. We have the worse graduation rates in the State. Nashville has always been a liberal Democrat city, but in recent years a new breed of liberal favors the latest trends in radical woke governance. 

Another thing that I do not like but is hard to measure is the greater stress of a bigger city. The measurable factors may be door-to-door commute time and that may not be that bad, but driving on multi-lane roads with complicated intersections and fire department sirens blaring while a homeless person tries to sell you a newspaper detracts from the quality of life. Also, life was more pleasant when you could find a parking spot. 

I know there are advantages to growth, but there are also cost.  Growth rarely pays for itself. The cost of providing services and dealing with more social problems exceed the new tax revenue from growth. Growth gave us more major league sports, finer dining, more choices in entertainment and shiny new buildings, but also higher taxes, more crime, and more stress. I wish Nashville would have stopped growing about fifteen years ago.

Below are excerpts from the report showing the ranking of our four largest cities. It is also interesting to see which cities are ranked better or worse than your city. See the full report at this link

Read more

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Monday, May 22, 2023

The U. S. has by far the highest child and teen firearm mortality rate among peer countries.


KFF press release, May 22, 2023- Firearms are now the number one cause of death for children in the United States but rank no higher than fifth in 11 other large and wealthy countries, a new KFF analysis finds.

Guns – including accidental deaths, suicides, and homicides – killed 4,357 children (ages 1-19 years old) in the United States in 2020, or roughly 5.6 per 100,000 children.

In each of the peer countries, guns kill fewer children than motor vehicles, cancer, congenital diseases, and other injuries, and often behind other conditions such as heart disease.

The U.S. is the only country among its peers that has seen a substantial increase in the rate of child firearm deaths in the last two decades (42%). All comparably large and wealthy countries have seen child firearm deaths fall since 2000. These peer nations had an average child firearm death rate of 0.5 per 100,000 children in the year 2000, falling 56% to 0.3 per 100,000 children in 2019.

This should not be accepted as normal.  This is not OK

by Rod Williams, May 22, 2023- I support the Second Amendment and I am a gun owner, but that does not mean I believe we should pretend that there is not a problem. If the comparable country average of teen firearm mortality rate is .03 and ours is 5.8 that means an American teen is 19 times as likely to die from a firearm. That should not be normal.  That should not be OK.

We need to admit we have a problem. We need to address the problem.  We need sensible gun laws. We need to look at our society and ask why we are so violent and have so many people with mental health issues. Reducing gun violence is not an easy problem to solve. Much of the emotional call for action are calls for actions that simply cannot happen and others are unworkable and simply symbolic.  That does not mean we should accept the status quo and do nothing. 

Below are some of my post on the topic of gun violence and the Second Amendment. 

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Sunday, May 21, 2023

Nashville unlikely to sue over state eliminating police oversight board; airport suit coming

BY: ADAM FRIEDMAN, Tennessee Lookout, MAY 18, 2023 - ... Jill Fitcheard, the executive director of Metro Nashville Community Oversight Department, told the Lookout that latest discussions with Metro’s legal department indicate the city won’t file a lawsuit challenging the new state law, which was signed by Gov. Bill Lee Wednesday and set to go into effect later this year. ... The Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship are discussing how they can file a suit without Nashville signing on, said Davie Tucker, the group’s leader. ... It’s widely expected that the next suit Nashville files will challenge the state’s takeover of the Nashville Airport Authority. (read it at this link)

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Nashville Bastiat Society will host “A Personal Journey to America: Marxism to Freedom” with Ismael Hernandez, May 23


Tue May 23rd 6:00pm - 8:00pm (CDT)

Richland Country Club, 1 Club Dr, Nashville, TN 37215, USA  

AIER’s Bastiat Society program in Nashville will host an event with Ismael Hernandez, Founder and Executive Director of the Freedom & Virtue Institute.

Ismael will tell his personal story of his journey away from the ideas of Marxism and the discovery of a new way of looking at the human person and social processes. He will discuss the reasons behind his ideological conversion, as well as his ideas for a freedom revolution in disadvantaged and minority communities through a rejection of government dependency and an embrace of personal liberty, financial literacy, work ethic, self-reliance, and human dignity. Coming to America became a transformative endeavor that Ismael recounts vividly.

Eventbrite Ticket Required. Register here.

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Nashville Conservatives present Mayoral Candidates, May 27


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Williamson County GOP May Mix and Mingle, Thursday, May 25


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