Preliminary data shows 43.5 percent of Rutherford County third-graders were proficient on the English Language Arts portion of the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program. This is a significant increase over the previous year’s proficiency rate of 39.3 percent.
A new Tennessee law requires third-graders to score proficiently on the ELA portion of the TCAP to be promoted to the fourth grade, or they must meet the requirements to be exempt or follow another pathway to be promoted to fourth grade.
An additional 27 percent of RCS third-graders are exempt from the law’s proficiency requirements because those students fall into one of several categories, including those who are English Language Learners, those who have a disability that impacts reading, or those who have been held back previously.
So based on preliminary figures, at least 70% of Rutherford County third-graders meet the requirements of the law to be automatically promoted to fourth grade. School district leaders are rechecking all academic and demographic data for accuracy, and this percentage will likely increase.
For all other students, parents have several options to ensure their children are promoted to fourth grade, and schools are working directly with parents on those options.
Below are the options for parents for their children to be promoted to fourth grade:
- Students may be given a retake of the test by their schools and can use the results to meet the proficiency requirement.
- Parents have an option to file an appeal directly with the Tennessee Department of Education using results of a universal screener given to students after the TCAP assessments were administered.
- Students can attend free summer learning camps being held in June and/or enroll in free after-school tutoring being offered by RCS in the fall.
- Parents can file an appeal if they feel their child had a “catastrophic event” that impeded their performance on the TCAP assessment.
Current third-graders were the youngest set of students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and their kindergarten year was shortened by three months because of a Tennessee public school shutdown in March 2020.
“We are extremely proud of the work and collaboration of our students, teachers, and parents,” Director of Schools Dr. Jimmy Sullivan said. “Third grade is a vital point in the life of a young person, and we want to ensure success for all. The competencies shown by our students is a testament to the resiliency of this group of third-graders.”
Sullivan added: “The promotion requirements around one TCAP data point don’t portray simple ‘reading ability.’ Instead, the TCAP third grade English Language Arts assessment is a measure of a student’s performance on all Tennessee Academic ELA Standards including the ability to interact, decipher, comprehend, and analyze comprehensive text.”
For those who wish to see the “full breadth” of the Tennessee Academic Standards for third grade ELA, the information is available on the Tennessee Department of Education’s website.
“We look forward to working with our students, families, and teachers as we navigate this new law to ensure the end goal is met for all — student success in school and in life,” Sullivan said.