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.

Parent Appeals for Fourth Grade Promotion

The Tennessee Department of Education will accept appeals from May 30 through June 30. The appeals must be submitted by parents HERE beginning May 30. 
Schools have sent parents letters with instructions for appeals and containing their child's state student ID number, which is required to submit an appeal. 
Appeal Eligibility:

A parent or legal guardian of an eligible student who achieved the performance level of “approaching” on the ELA portion of the third grade TCAP test may submit an appeal. The following criteria outline eligibility for an appeal approval:

    1. The student received a score at or above the 40th percentile on their spring universal reading screener,


    2. A catastrophic situation occurred during the days leading up to the TCAP test that impacted the 3rd grade student’s ability to perform on the test. Catastrophic situations include, but are not limited to, a death in the immediate family, loss of a family home, significant medical diagnosis, abuse, physical or emotional neglect, or household dysfunction (e.g., substance abuse, incarcerated relative, mental illness).


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?
4th Grade Promotion

TN Dept. of Education Third Grade Promotion Timeline

Rutherford County Schools Timeline

January 10

Third Grade Family Notification of Winter Universal Screener scores


February 13-April 28

Summer Camp Student Registration

  • Priority Letters sent home
  • Skyward Interest Form open to families through March 24
  • Acceptance and waiting list letter sent home beginning April 10

April 28

Bus transportation registration deadline


April 17-May 2

TCAP Testing Window


May 1-19

Universal Screener Window for ELA and Math

May 1-5 will be the window for all 3rdgrade students.

May 19

TCAP Raw Score Returned

Used to identify 3rdgrade students that are eligible for retakes and appeals

May 22-24

3rd Grade ELA TCAP Retake Window

Retakes offered during the day at all school sites

May 30-June 13

Parent Appeal Window

Students that scored a performance level of approaching on the 3rd grade ELA TCAP test may be eligible for an appeal based on Universal Screener score.

June 5-June 29

RCS Summer Camp


June 13

Summer Camp Post-test Opens

  • Administered to all students attending summer camp
  • 3rd grade students must show adequate growth with 90% attendance at camp to be promoted.

*Final retention notification for families will be given prior to the beginning of the next school year.



How can you support literacy development at home? 

Early literacy foundation  

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

Looking for a way to enrich story time with your child? These one-page help sheets provide families with discussion questions, activities, and a helpful book summary – all designed to make reading even more fun!

K-3 Toolkit  

K-3 Home Learning Toolkit - Developmental Themes, Suggested Books & Activities

Practice makes reading and writing easier, and this list of family-friendly activities will help support literacy development at home.

Reading 360  

Reading 360 - Family Reading Resources

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.

Starting with sounds  

Starting with Sounds

In collaboration with Tennessee’s six PBS stations, the Tennessee Department of Education created “Starting with Sounds” to highlight the importance of early literacy and how families and students can practice reading.

best for all  

Literacy Foundational Skills Online Tool

Practice makes reading and writing easier, and this list of family-friendly activities will help support literacy development at home.