KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A new third-grade retention law focuses on getting Tennessee children up to par for reading proficiency.
Now, families have a shot at going around the steps it requires to move on to fourth grade.
From May 30 to the end of June, parents whose students received the approaching grade level on the English Language Arts (ELA) portion of their Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) exam can file for an appeal.
Some parents have already started the process and are anxiously awaiting their results. Jennifer Brown’s 9-year-old son Jace Brown is a third grader at Clinton Elementary School.
“It was a letdown and it was really sad because he was crying, he was upset, he didn’t want to do summer school, he didn’t want to do after-school tutoring and he didn’t want to do the retake,” Jennifer Brown said.
Jace Brown scored an approaching-level grade on the ELA portion of his TCAP test which could keep him from progressing to the fourth grade.
He is just one of thousands of children across the state who are worried about being held back due to the new law.
“He’s worked really hard on his grades to be an A-B honor roll student and for him to have to go through this for just one part of a state test is ridiculous,” Jennifer Brown stated.
Jennifer Brown has filed for an appeal through the Department of Education with the hopes that her son’s grades throughout the year will outweigh this one test score and allow him to move forward.
Laschinski Emerson is the founder of A-1 Learning Connections, a non-profit tutoring program.
“Testing is just a snapshot of kids’ knowledge or their reading comprehension just because of the fact that we can have students that are great readers but they have anxiety when it comes to taking the test and it may show within their scores,” Emerson said.
She adds that she understands the frustration from parents but something has to be done to enhance students reading skills.
“We have to just take it head on and say reading is going to be something that is going to have to be improved if you want to reach these goals and dreams that you have and we’re going to have to work on them,” Emerson said.
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Jennifer Brown said this one score shouldn’t determine her child’s future.
“My hope is that parents speak up on behalf of their kids, that teachers speak up on behalf of their kids. They are the one’s with them all the time. They know what they’re capable of,” she said.
According to the Tennessee Department of Education, grounds for an appeal include students who received a grade of approaching on their TCAP, scored at or above the 40th percentile on their spring universal reading screener, or students who had a catastrophic event such as a death in the family leading up to TCAP week.
To fill out the appeal form, click here.