NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program test has never been more important for third graders.
TCAP testing is set to begin Monday, which means third graders who don’t score a high enough reading score indicating they are reading at grade level could be held back because of the third-grade retention law that the Tennessee legislature has yet to change.
“I have significant concerns that we are not ready, and that even more importantly, our schools and our families are not ready for the disruptions this is going to cause this year,” said Sen. Jeff Yarbro (D—Nashville) at a Senate committee hearing this week.
While discussing a bill that would change the law for next year’s third graders, Yarbro proposed an amendment that would push the implementation of the law to a year later.
“I just don’t think this policy is ready to be implemented for students across the state,” the Democratic Minority Leader said.
Republicans called that an “unfriendly amendment” and tabled it.
“They are ready,” Sen. Ferrell Haile (R—Gallatin) said of the school districts he represents. “They explained this bill to me…much better than our discussion has been today and they are ready.”
The bill that would change the law next year is scheduled to be on the Senate floor next week.
If it passes, it would allow another benchmark assessment to be considered for students who score in the “approaching grade level” category of the TCAP reading assessment.
It would also provide a pathway for teachers and administrators to assist with an appeal to go onto the next grade level if they don’t score high enough on the TCAP.
Considering that 2021 TCAP data indicates that seven out of 10 third graders would’ve been held back if this law was in place two years ago, parents are worried on how this will impact their child(ren)’s education.
“The test themselves are not an accurate measure of proficiency,” said third grade parent Alesandra Bellos. “We already have a teacher and staffing shortage and this is just going to intensify that, and I would imagine this would disrupt a lot of students learning. It’s just going to be a scramble all around.”
This year’s TCAP test results are expected to come out in the middle of May, which has parents and teachers concerned that kids who don’t get the reading score needed to advance will be in a rush to figure out next steps.
According to the current law, a student who doesn’t achieve a score indicating they are reading on grade level has the option of retaking the test, signing up for a summer learning camp, or getting a tutor for the following year if they want to continue to the fourth grade.