Academics » Literacy and Third Grade Retention Law

Literacy and Third Grade Retention Law

The Tennessee General Assembly has revised the state’s law regarding the promotion of students from third grade (Tennessee Code Annotated § 49-6-3115) and requires students who are determined to need additional supports in reading to receive them before being promoted to fourth grade.
 
 
RCS Director of Schools Dr. Jimmy Sullivan provides a thorough overview of the new Tennessee  third grade retention law and what it means for parents and students. 
 
Will my student be retained in third grade?
 
The new law requires students who do not pass the third-grade section of the English Language Arts TCAP (which means a student receives an "approaching" or "below" score), must be retained in third grade unless the student participates in supports provided by the school district.
 
To provide supports, Rutherford County Schools will offer free summer camps and tutoring to ensure students can be promoted to the fourth grade. 
 
  • Students scoring in the "below" category will be required to attend summer camp AND tutoring to be promoted to fourth grade. 
  • Students scoring in the "approaching" category will be required to attend summer camp OR tutoring to be promoted to the fourth grade. 
 
BELOW APPROACHING ON-TRACK / MEETS MASTERED / EXCEEDS
Performance at this level demonstrates the student has a minimal understanding and nominal ability to apply knowledge and skills of the given subject as defined by the Tennessee Academic Standards. 
Performance at this level demonstrates the student is approaching understanding and has a partial ability to apply knowledge and skills of the given subject as defined by the Tennessee Academic Standards. 
Performance at this level demonstrates the student has a comprehensive understanding and thorough ability to apply knowledge and skills of the given subject as defined by the Tennessee Academic Standards.  Performance at this level demonstrates the student has an extensive understanding and expert ability to apply knowledge and skills of the given subject as defined by the Tennessee Academic Standards. 

Exemptions from the required supports and retention

  •   English learners who have received less than two years of English/Language Arts instruction.
  •   A student who was previously retained.
  •   A student who retests before the next school year and scores proficient in English/Language Arts.
  •    A student with a disability that affects reading.
 
Note: Based on current guidance from TDOE, students with disabilities, reading deficits, and/or suspected reading deficits as defined by a student’s IEP and/or the initiation of an Student Assistance Team whose disability or suspected disability are the likely cause of their reading achievement scores, will NOT be retained, regardless of whether or not the student meets TDOE’s threshold.



When will I know if this applies to my student?

We expect third grade TCAP scores to be returned to the district in late May. We will contact parents with their student’s third grade scores immediately following their release, along with the options for summer school and/or tutoring.
 
We will use our universal reading screener in December and May, to make our best prediction of whether or not your student is likely to fall into the below or approaching categories on TCAP.
 
Following the completion of the required supports, the decision on whether or not a student will be retained will be made following the fourth grade TCAP assessment. The law states that a student be retained in fourth grade if they do not make adequate progress on the fourth grade TCAP.

The Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) is required in the law to define adequate progress. TDOE has not yet released such information.
 
QUESTIONS? Email: [email protected]
Summer Learning Camps

 

How can you support literacy development at home? 

Early literacy foundation  

Governor's Early Literacy Foundation - Family Reading Time at Home Guides

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Students can learn a lot about reading from their families. This flyer provides activities to promote the sounds-first approach to reading, to model positive reading behaviors, and to support struggling readers.

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