CARTER COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Mothers spoke out about their honor roll students failing the TCAP exam twice, saying it’s due to the pressure put on them with new state requirements.
State legislation went into effect this year that requires third graders to test proficiently or above on the English Language Arts (ELA) portion of the TCAP exam.
Mothers Jacklyn Jessee and Kayla Hartley have third graders that attend Valley Forge Elementary School in Carter County.
Carter County Schools reported to News Channel 11 that 37% of their third graders scored proficiently.
“My son got the A – B honor roll last week and then yesterday was told that he failed,” said Jessee.
She says her son loves school and that she’s very sad that she has to tell her son what happened.
Hartley’s daughter has no problems academically but got the same score twice on the exam.
“So, that would show me there is a lack somewhere,” said Hartley. “The information’s accurate if we’ve taken it twice and we’re getting the same result. The information is accurate, but why is it that way? Why are we behind where we should be?”
Jessee says the pressure these students faced this year is why they struggled.
“I think that that’s one major reason why everybody failed is because they were so nervous,” said Jessee. “It’s a lot of pressure to put on a 9-year-old.”
Hartley has a lot of concerns, believing there are still parts of this law that are unclear and unfair to students.
“These are kids who started kindergarten in COVID, so I think this issue should have been addressed earlier rather than later and not done in a way that we were going to scare kids by retaining them either,” said Hartley.
Jessee is trying to organize a protest at the next State Board of Education meeting in Nashville to be a voice for her son and other children affected by this law.
“My kid doesn’t have a voice,” said Jessee. “He’s 9, so he doesn’t know how to stand up for himself to a bunch of adults. I’ve had over 30 parents message me to tell me, ‘Hey I want to help. Let’s do something’.”
Both mothers say their children will have tutoring next year.
What’s next: Carter County Schools Summer Schooling and Tutoring
The director of K – 5 Curriculum for Carter County Schools, Betsy Oliver, told News Channel 11 that the school district hopes that the students in summer school show growth.
She says they have already seen students improve after retaking the TCAP exam.
Summer school tutors are coming from a pool of existing teachers within the system. Oliver says the school district partners with the Niswonger Foundation, which has provided extra funding, allowing them to have “high dosage, low ratio tutoring”. She says this will help boost student learning.
A total of 54 teachers will teach at Happy Valley Elementary School for summer school this year. Oliver says they chose this elementary school because it’s their largest elementary school.
Students will be bussed throughout the county daily to and from this location.
Carter County Schools’ summer school program begins June 5.