TN General Assembly passes bill requiring schools to offer summer school programs for students falling behind

Education

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The “Tennessee Learning Loss Remediation and Student Acceleration Act” has been passed in the Tennessee General Assembly. The bill requires schools to implement a program of after-school learning mini-camps, learning loss bridge camps, and summer learning camps to remediate student learning loss.

There are 3 parts to this bill. Part one looks at summer programming. Starting summer of 2021, school districts will be required to provide a six-week summer school program for elementary school students, and a four week summer school program for middle school students; as well as an after school camp focused on STEAM learning.

Teachers who participate in the summer camps will receive a stipend of $1,000 per week.

The second part of the bill requires the department to provide a system for implementing a statewide tutoring core.

The third part of the bill has to do with a third grade gate. It is meant to provide support for students who have not yet met the “on track” or “mastered” components of the third grade English Language Arts portion of the TCAP exam.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reports only 34 percent of Tennessee students are proficient or advanced readers by the time they hit fourth grade. Research shows that students who do not achieve reading proficiency by third grade are more likely to drop out of high school, be incarcerated or experience poverty when they become adults.

This research is the reason why this legislation puts an emphasis on students in the third grade.

Third graders whose test scores fall in the “approaching” level only have a few options:

They will be held back and forced to repeat the grade unless they successfully retake the exam, attend a 4-week summer school program, or participate in tutoring for the duration of their fourth grade school year.

Those whose test scores falls at what’s considered below average, will have to repeat the grade if they do not successfully pass a retake or attend a 4-week summer program in addition to tutoring for the duration of the following school year.

Mike Winstead, director of schools for Maryville City Schools says this feels like too much weight is being placed on one exam.

“This legislation says on one test at the end of 3rd grade, regardless of what the kid has done throughout the year, if that kid is below or approaching, then retention is the plan,” Winstead said. “This is 60,000 kids statewide. 60,000 out of 100,000 kids scored below or approaching so we’re not talking about a small number.”

Parents like Nira Seiber are sharing their concerns as well. Seiber has two children who could be impacted.

“Even if they score a couple points below the proficient level, they will be held back or we will have to jump through several hoops for them to go on to the next grade and it seems like more pressure on the parent when we’re already dealing with so many pressures this past year,” Seiber said.

There was an amendment added that allows parents to go through an appeals process for students achieving a performance level rating of “approaching” on the ELA portion of the student’s most recent TCAP test.

To read more about SB 7002, click here.

Intervening to Stop Learning Loss – SB 7002

  • Requires interventions for struggling students including after-school learning mini-camps, learning loss bridge camps and summer learning camps, beginning summer 2021.
  • Program prioritizes students who score below proficient in both reading (ELA) and math subjects.
  • Creates the Tennessee Accelerated Literacy and Learning Corps to provide ongoing tutoring for students throughout the entire school year.
  • Strengthens laws around a third grade reading gate so we no longer advance students who are not prepared.

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