Knox County Asks for Relief from New 3rd Grade Law

The Knox County School Board has joined a number of districts across the state calling on lawmakers to make changes to the state’s new third grade retention law.

The Knoxville News-Sentinel notes that as written, the law could mean about 2700 third grade students in Knox County will be held back this year – unless they undergo summer tutoring and/or remediation during the 2023-24 school year.

A state law that goes into effect this year requires that students not testing at “met expectations” – reading at grade level – according to TNReady results, must be retained or complete a summer remediation program.

An article in the Maryville Daily Times explains what this might mean in practice.

The law applies to students who score at the “below expectations” or “approaching expectations” performance levels on the TCAP exam. Statewide, that could mean two-thirds of third graders, Winstead explained. However, Maryville’s third grade ELA performance last spring was ranked sixth in the state, with 60% meeting or exceeding expectations.

That left 40%, 174 children, potentially affected if the law had been in place. However, with exemptions for new English learners, students with disabilities that affect reading and previously retained students, the number drops to 122.

Across the state, districts are asking policymakers to tweak the law to give them flexibility.

It should be noted that the state has provided zero additional funding to districts to support the required remediation.

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

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