JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL)–Despite being the latest in a string of local school districts to publicly oppose the so-called ‘third-grade retention law’, Johnson City School officials said they’re well prepared to live up to the law’s requirements.
School board members in Johnson City voted unanimously Monday night to send a letter to legislators and the Governor, urging them to keep retention decisions at the local level.
They’re citing the state Board of Education’s own policy, which cites a minimum of seven criteria for promotion decisions.
“We have policies in place already that help us make decisions on who should be retained and who shouldn’t,” Board Chair Kathy Hall told News Channel 11.
Johnson City now joins districts like Elizabethton City Schools and Sullivan County Schools in sending letters to state lawmakers.
Superintendent Steve Barnett said the district is well prepared to help students who don’t meet state expectations on the TCAP test.
“We’ll have students in a robust summer school in June which is one of the requirements of the law, and after-school tutoring in the fall as well to prevent students from being retained,” Barnett said.
Students who “approach” grade level expectations on the English Language Arts portion of the TCAP are required to participate in one of those two programs.
They must attend a summer school and show “adequate growth” on a test given at the end, or participate in tutoring in their fourth-grade year, Barnett told News Channel 11.
Students who score “below” proficiency must do both.
Barnett says he expects some students will be retained but most won’t.
As the law stands, 64% of Tennessee’s third-graders could face retention. But, legislators have filed at least 18 bills suggesting amendments to the law.
Hall says though literacy is critical, retention isn’t the right way to make sure students are prepared to succeed.
“It’s an awful lot of pressure to put on a third-grader for one test, on one day to say if they’re a successful reader or not,” Hall said. “We believe that there are a lot of other methods to determine if someone is reading where they should be and will be successful in the fourth grade.”
TCAP testing runs from April 17 to May 2.