NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — Rep. David Hawk has filed a bill to modify the state’s controversial third-grade retention law.
The Greeneville Republican filed House Bill 93 for introduction on Wednesday. If passed, it would give more control to local school systems in determining whether students should be held back.
The retention law, which went into effect this school year, requires students to earn a proficient rating in English Language Arts (ELA) on the TCAP test in order to be promoted to the fourth grade. Those who don’t have to stay in the third grade for another year unless they do one of three things before the next school year: retake the test and score proficiently, attend a learning loss bridge camp and demonstrate “adequate growth,” or be assigned a tutor for the next school year.
Those who go the bridge camp or tutoring route must also show “adequate growth” on the ELA section of the fourth-grade TCAP in order to make it to the fifth grade.
Under the existing law, the state Department of Education determines what constitutes “adequate growth.”
Hawk’s bill would change that by leaving it up to local school officials rather than the state.
“The desire of parents and educators in the region has been to keep the decision about retention of any third or fourth grade students in the purview of local school systems, so this is what my bill attempts to do,” Hawk told News Channel 11. “My bill keeps intact the summer reading programs and high intensity tutoring for third grade students who fall below proficient in their reading test, but will give more discretion to parents and teachers to say if a child should repeat third grade.”
Several local school officials have expressed concern about the law, including those from Kingsport, Sullivan County, and Washington County, and are calling on state lawmakers to make changes before the end of the school year.
If passed, Hawk’s bill would go into effect for the current school year.