State Senator Bo Watson (R-Hixson-District 11) held his second annual Literacy Summit in Collegedale last week. He and several other state and education officials talked about the new updates to the Tennessee Literacy Success Act, including the third-grade retention law.
The panel was made up of Watson and four others: Lisa Coons, chief academic officer for the Tennessee Department of Education; Aleah Guthrie, senior director of policy and government relations for Tennessee Score; Deborah Reed, director of the Reading360 Research Center at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville; and Yvette Stewart, director of elementary teaching and learning and K-12 literacy for Hamilton County Schools.
The retention law, which says that all third graders who do not achieve a proficient score on the English Language Arts section of the TCAP test, was a focal point of their conversation at the summit.
The most recent TCAP scores show that nearly two thirds of current third graders in Hamilton County risk retention next year if they do not improve their scores on this spring’s upcoming test.
There are ways that students who do not meet the qualifying score can still move on to the next grade level. The law stipulates that third graders who are approaching proficiency can choose to participate in a summer bridge program or agree to intensive tutoring through the fourth grade. Students who fall significantly below proficiency must participate in both the summer program and the tutoring.