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New State Law Could Increase The Number Of 3rd Grade Retentions

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
New State Law Could Increase The Number Of 3rd Grade Retentions

A new state law in effect this school year could cause more third graders to be retained.

The legislation focuses on proficient reading levels in state testing and gives districts the opportunity to hold back students that do not meet the standards. Jackson County Director of Schools Kristy Brown said last year, about 65 percent of students statewide did not meet that mark.

“I think that using one section of one test on one day to recommend retention for a student is not the best way to determine if a student is retained,” Brown said. “I am hopeful that there are some changes made.”

Brown said in Jackson County, about 33 percent of third graders would have been recommended for retention. Brown said the law is concerning for two reasons. It creates a high stakes test and may not reflect a student’s true academic success.

“When a student is retained just one time, their odds of graduating on time is drastically decreased,” Brown said. “That would have students graduating at 19-years-old. I do want students on grade level. That is our goal, but to base retention on one section, on one test… I think there could be some improvements to that law.”

Brown said the system has already sent letters home to parents about the law. Brown said teachers will meet with families to be transparent as to where your student’s reading skills are. Brown said some opportunities will be offered to avoid retention such as summer school or a fourth grade tutoring program.

‘There are a few exceptions to that for some students that are very limited,” Brown said. “There are also options to avoid retention through summer school and through tutoring. Ultimately, there is a possibility that students not performing on grade level will be detained. We want to make sure we provide all the resources and information for parents to make sure our students are performing at the highest level that they can.”


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