NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Metro Nashville School Board is taking action against a polarizing third grade reading law.
At Tuesday night’s school board meeting, they unanimously voted in favor of a resolution, urging the Tennessee General Assembly to amend the law (TCA 49-6-3115).
According to the resolution, they’re asking for school districts to have power over student retention decisions for third and fourth-grade students, “based upon all school district information for each student and without delegating the final authority for such decisions to the State Board of Education.”
The school board said this would allow for a holistic, individualized review of the student, versus their score on the Tennessee comprehensive assessment program (TCAP) test.
“What this law really does is see if our students are good at taking a test,” said Abigail Tylor, District 9 Metro School Board member. “There is some collateral correlation with reading, but at the end of the day if a student is a good test taker, they will score higher than a student who isn’t, even if they have exactly the same reading capabilities.”
Based on 2019 assessments, the school board said 63% of Tennessee third-graders would have been at risk of retention based on the state’s reading law. They reported the impact of educating more than 45,000 students for an additional year would surpass $450 million.
“There is a reason why teachers are now expected to teach students how to take a test,” said Tylor.
State lawmakers said the law is meant to keep students on track with the appropriate reading level and prepare them for high school. They also noted there are other ways students can advance to the next grade if they don’t score well on the test, including tutoring and summer school sessions.