KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Knox County Board of Education approved a resolution that calls on the Tennessee General Assembly to give school districts the final say on retention decisions for third and fourth-grade students.
The resolution asks the General Assembly to amend a new state law that says third-grade students who score less than proficient on the English language arts section of the TCAP exam should be held back unless certain conditions are met. TCA 49-6-3115 was passed in 2021 and goes into effect for the 2022-23 school year.
Students who score less than proficient could still be promoted to the fourth grade under the new law if they retest before the beginning of the school year and score proficient in ELA, attend a summer learning program or participate in special tutoring for the entirety of the next school year.
In November, the Board discussed the resolution during their workshop and regular meeting. They instead opted to postpone the vote until December to gather more information. The resolution was unanimously approved during the December 7 work session at 5 p.m. in the Summer Place Boardroom.
“The decision to hold a child back should be between the parents and educators who are working with the kids each and every day. We are asking the legislators to amend this law and allow our families and schools to do their jobs to best serve our children,” said Fourth District Board Member Katherine Bike, who introduced the resolution.
Similar resolutions have been passed in Anderson County, Alcoa, Hamblen County, Williamson, Weakley County, Lynchburg, Robertson County, Wilson County, Blount County and Warren County. Parents, teachers, and other concerned community members have offered support for the resolutions and many have been organized through Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment (SOCM). This group has advocated across the state for changes to the law.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect the school board’s decision on the resolution.