Approximately 25 percent of third-grade students in Cheatham County Schools will need to attend summer school and/or have tutoring in the upcoming school year to avoid being retained.
That update came Thursday from Cheatham County Schools after eligible students retook the state’s TCAP test on Tuesday, May 23. The retest opportunity was part of the state’s new third-grade retention law, which mandates that students who do not score as “meets” or “exceeds expectations” on the English/Language Arts portion of the test will not be allowed to be promoted to the fourth grade.
There are a number of exceptions to the rule for students with disabilities, students who have previously been retained and students with English as a second language. Students can also take a summer reading bridge camp – where they must have 90% attendance – and maintain a state-funded tutor during fourth grade to advance. Students can also re-take the TCAP test to advance.
Cheatham County Schools received its initial test data on Friday, May 19 and parents were notified the following Monday if their child was eligible for retesting. According to Communications Director Tim Adkins, no parent had requested their child be retained as of Thursday morning.
The district’s summer learning camps are scheduled to begin on Monday, June 5. Parents interested in signing up their children can find more information online at www.cheathamcountyschools.net/apps/news/article/1754640.
According to the initial results provided by the Tennessee Department of Education, 41.4 percent of Cheatham third-graders met the required proficiency levels to avoid retesting. Exceptions to the retention law raised that number to around 60 percent, which still left 40 percent subject to the law’s requirements.
Parents of students who have achieved the performance level of “approaching” on the ELA portion of the TCAP can file an appeal to the State Board of Education, according to information on the school district’s website. Appeals may be filed if the student received a score above the 40th percentile on their spring universal reading screener; or if there was “a catastrophic situation occurred during the days leading up to the TCAP test that impacted the third grade student’s ability to perform on the test or the retake.”
Cheatham County Director of Schools Dr. Cathy Beck issued a statement on the law’s impact locally:
“A decision of this magnitude should not be defined by one test score from an eight-year-old student. The Cheatham County School Board passed a resolution at its December 2022 meeting asking the state legislature to consider revisions to the law. Retention should be a local decision, and many factors about a child should be considered before making that decision. Keep in mind that this year’s third-grade students, who this legislation affected, were in kindergarten in March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic prompted school districts to alter how they provided academic instruction. Nevertheless, post-pandemic data indicates that Cheatham County students continue to make gains in achievement in reading and appear to have exceeded pre-pandemic levels in third-grade reading. We believe the amendments made to the law by the Tennessee General Assembly are appropriate and needed. We are grateful for the fantastic work our teachers and students do daily. We want our students to be held to high academic standards.”