Recently, the state of Tennessee passed a new law that would require third-grade students to be held back if they don’t score proficient on the English/ Language Arts portion of the TCAP. This law would affect almost 70% of third graders in the state. It is part of the Tennessee Learning Loss Remediation and Student Acceleration Act passed in January of 2021.
I, for one, do not think this is a good idea by the state. The School Board took a very level-headed and appropriate approach to the situation by recently approving a resolution to be sent to the state for them to amend this law.
Amending the law to give the county more freedom to make its own judgment calls for these students is necessary because the School Board knows our students more than the officials who put this into law. Why does the state think this is the right move? Why is holding most Tennessee students back the solution to the reading-comprehension problem?
Now, I am not a professional, but if they want to improve our scores, couldn’t they implement things that actually help the students instead of adding more pressure on these students to perform well on the TCAP? Think about it. The TCAP is already the biggest and most important test for elementary kids. It was when I was a kid.
TCAP season is a very stressful and nerve-wracking time for these poor children, so why add more pressure to the test? I feel like that is counter-intuitive. One concern that Director of Schools Grant Swallows pointed out at the last School Board meeting is that Warren County students perform well on the reading assessments every quarter, but they tend to freeze up when a written test is in front of them.
Telling them that they would need to repeat third grade if they don’t score well enough on this one test puts a significant amount of pressure on them to do well, which I believe could decrease scores. Not to mention the added pressure it would put on our teachers.
If they want to solve this problem, maybe they should support more reading programs or offer a TCAP-prep course. I guess they are doing this to increase the number of students in tutoring and summer school, but there has to be another way to encourage parents to take up these learning opportunities.
Children need support and they need to learn at their own pace. I don’t know what the solution to the reading-comprehension issue would be, but I do not think this retention law that’s been passed is a step in the right direction.
Test taking turned me away from reading as a child. Putting that much emphasis on the test could make the problem even worse, but I guess we shall see in the spring when this law goes into effect. If it works, and the entire state improves in reading comprehension, then I will eat my words. However, I am worried for how this law will play out.
I have a niece approaching the third grade and she is a strong reader. She reads everything and tells me literally everything she reads. Who knows how she will perform on a written test? I do know she is more than a proficient reader.
Standard reporter Taylor Moore can be reached at (931) 473-2191.