KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Thousands of students across Tennessee are facing retention as the state released TCAP scores to districts late last week.
The Tennessee Department of Education reported that 40% of 3rd grade students scored proficient in English language arts. The other 60% could be held back under the state’s new retention law unless they pass a retake, attend summer school, undergo tutoring, file an appeal or meet certain other exemptions.
“The thing that makes me so angry is that this is a decision that is being made by politicians who do not know my child, nor are they educators, nor are they qualified to assess my child’s ability,” Dr. Karen Lloyd said.
Dr. Lloyd, who teaches microbiology at the University of Tennessee, has a son in third grade and a daughter in sixth. She swears by Knox County Schools.
Her kids have straight A’s and read every night. But she, like many others, is angry at the state.
“Our response to this materially has been that we are going to remove our kids and put them into private school,” Dr. Lloyd said. “That makes me extremely sad because I don’t want to do private school.”
She wanted to be very clear that she loves the school system and doesn’t blame the teachers or administrators in Knox County.
Dr. Lloyd’s not alone in that sentiment.
“We’re going to do homeschooling from here on out,” Mike Rivera said.
Rivera’s daughter attends Tennessee Virtual Academy (TNVA). But after she got her results, that’s going to change.
“Heart-wrenching at times,” Rivera said. “She’s a straight-A student, and she really felt like she did well on this test. When she got the results, it broke her. It really did.”
State leaders have faced a lot of questions on the subject but continue to say this is the right choice.
“The results that came out show a great advance in Tennessee,” Sen. Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol) said. “I think [it’s] the largest advance in student proficiency in decades.”
Lundberg, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, also pointed out that as long as students go to summer school or receive tutoring next year, the state won’t retain them. “There is not one student that has to be held back.”
Still, frustration remains for parents.
“Who gave them the authority whether my kid can read or not? They don’t know anything, they don’t know my kid,” Dr. Lloyd said. “They don’t know how to be third-grade teachers.”
WKRN reached out to Gov. Bill Lee for comment on the issue. His office pointed to a release from the Dept. of Education that included a quote from Lee which reads:
“The ability to read at grade level determines a student’s success in the classroom and beyond, and we’re encouraged that our strategic literacy investments have already resulted in historic gains across the state. As we continue our work to deliver strong reading skills to benefit every student, we’re committed to giving families multiple pathways that will support student promotion and achievement.“