NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Marthia Sides-Shaw said her 9-year-old daughter is a “straight-A student,” but worries her third-grader will be held back because of a new state law.
“I just, I think that’s terrible. That’s a terrible, terrible thing to do to a third-grader,” Sides-Shaw said.
This is the first year Tennessee’s third-grade retention law will be in effect. The law requires most third-graders who don’t get a certain score on a standardized test to repeat the grade to improve child literacy or take other remedial steps.
“What we know is if a child can’t read by the time they get to fourth grade, the outcomes for that child are bleak,” Gov. Bill Lee said Tuesday. “The goal is no kids are retained. In fact, what happens out of this is kids learn to read at a greater rate than ever.”
However, some parents like Sides-Shaw are afraid their kids will be held back, need to attend summer classes, or have a tutor next year despite being a good student and a competent reader.
Summer classes or getting additional tutoring are two of the options families have if they don’t want their student to repeat the third grade.
“My daughter does have issues with timing because she’s just not used to that, and it stresses her out a little bit. I mean, she’s in third grade. This is not the SATs,” Sides-Shaw said.
She explained that her daughter was not doing well in some of the practice tests leading up to the end-of-year TCAP test, so she’s worried her daughter will be held back because of her test-taking abilities and not her reading level.
“I can’t imagine that you would put that much emphasis on this,” she said.
In an email sent to parents Wednesday, Metro Nashville Public Schools said TCAP scores will come out May 19, which is six days before the last day of school.
Parents said with test results coming out so late, this law can ruin their summer plans.
“Our children already have like summer camps that we’ve paid for,” Sides-Shaw said. “I mean, giving you only a few weeks, it just doesn’t really make any sense to me, and again, it would be one thing if my child’s grades were matching the test scores. I would be prepared for that.”
State lawmakers have made changes to this law, but those changes won’t apply until next school year.
MNPS said they support the intent of the law, but don’t support putting this much emphasis on a single test.
“[W]e do not believe third grade retention based on TCAP tests is either a pedagogically sound or a researched-based method for improving student academic and social-emotional outcomes and long-term success,” said a spokesperson for the district.
MNPS is asking all third grade parents to sign their kids up for their Promising Scholars summer learning camps just in case and will keep that registration open through the end of the year.
Currently, more than half of all MNPS third-graders have enrolled.
Sides-Shaw hasn’t enrolled her daughter yet and hopes she doesn’t have to.
For more information on how MNPS is navigating this law, click here.