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Third Grade ELA Proficiency Law Now In Effect

Parents, guardians, grandparents—perhaps even all family members of third grade students—should be aware of a new Tennessee law that was passed in 2021 but went into effect this year that addresses student retention or promotion based on English Language Arts (ELA) scores.

In response to statewide low ELA achievement by third graders, the legislature passed the law that states:

“Beginning with the 2022-2023 school year, a student in the third grade shall not be promoted to the next grade level unless the student is determined to be proficient in English language arts (ELA) based on the student’s achieving a performance level rating of ‘on track’ or ‘mastered’ on the ELA portion of the student’s most recent Tennessee comprehensive assessment program (TCAP) test.”

Data from 2021 TCAP results showed that about 68% of Tennessee third graders did not meet that proficiency standard.

Scores on third grade proficiency in Perry County were worse: only 16.3% reached the mark, according to the Tennessee Department of Education. The 2021 TCAP result was the county’s lowest in the last decade.

And now, this new law could determine which third graders advance and which are held back, based simply on their TCAP end-of-the-year reading score.

The legislation was debated for two days before being passed in the education special session last year—without any testimony from school leaders.

Director of Schools Eric Lomax told the Review: “I believe our principals and teachers, in consultation with the parents, know a lot more about each individual child than just a test score.

“I have heard many concerns from educators and parents; one especially is that a child …………….


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