NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — One Tennessee lawmaker wants to put more local control over the state’s controversial third-grade retention law, which went into effect this year. 

Rep. David Hawk (R—Greeneville) has filed a bill that would move the authority to determine if a student can be promoted from the third or fourth grade from the state Department of Education to the local education agency (LEA). 

The bill itself is scant on text—it contains just three sentences—but it would have big impacts on Tennessee students.  

The text of the bill deletes references to TDOE in the previous bill and instead replaces them with “as determined by the student’s LEA,” putting the control of those decisions in the hands of the more than 141 school districts in the state.

“In layman’s terms, the bill will ultimately give decision-making authority to the local school districts on whether a third-grader is retained or not if they do not meet proficiency on the TCAP test,” Hawk told News 2 of the bill.

Hawk said he’d heard from individuals across the state about their concerns over the third-grade retention bill, including from professional educators, school board members and parents, who expressed there may be a better way to determine a student’s readiness to move on from the third grade.

“There are opportunities to show growth within other testing mechanisms that those third graders are going to be taking,” he said. “I want us to look at the holistic child and see where their struggles are, where their strong suits are, as opposed to retention as of one test.”

While he said he anticipated “some blowback” on the bill, Hawk emphasized the ultimate goal from those who may disagree with his bill would be the same as his.

“The ultimate goal is we all want our kids to be able to read on grade-level,” he said.

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According to the bill, the switch would also go into effect immediately and apply to the current school year and every subsequent school year.