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Retention Law Change Brings Options For 4th Graders

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Retention Law Change Brings Options For 4th Graders

A new development in the state’s third and fourth grade retention law allows fourth graders’ parents, teachers, and principals to collectively decide if a student will be promoted to fifth grade.

Putnam County Schools Elementary Instructional Supervisor Dr. Diana Wood said the change requires extra tutoring in fifth grade if a student is promoted. She said fourth graders who failed to show adequate growth on TCAP reading scores were originally required to be retained. She said this promotes a team-oriented approach to moving students forward.

“For lots of kids, retaining them can be a risk factor in them not graduating from high school,” Wood said. “So there are lots of things to take into account besides just that one test on one day. So, this at least gives options for kids and we’re being able to look at some other data points.”

Wood said many students who do not meet the required growth are performing well in class and are reading on grade level. She said the system is working to restructure its tutoring system to provide more resources for students who move on to middle school but require extra help.

“Parents know their kids,” Wood said. “Teachers that have worked with these children all year have much input, and they know how they’re performing on classroom assessments and how they’re performing in the classroom. And then, of course, the principal is part of the conversation. Yes, it is, we think, a very positive and give that option for kids and we’re really thrilled about that.”

Wood said that for some students who did not reach adequate growth on TCAP and were required to seek extra support like Putnam County’s Summer Learning Camp in order to be promoted, the options in place may not have been the right fit. She said some families had scheduling conflicts that did not allow their students to attend the camp. She said the district also has many students who were right on the cusp of meeting required growth but did not quite score high enough.

“You have ‘below expectations,’ ‘approaching expectations,’ met expectations,’ and ‘exceeds expectations,’ and we do have a large group in our schools who are in that ‘approaching,’” Wood said. “So definitely, in that middle to upper end of approaching, those students are generally reading on grade level and doing grade level work.”

She said she believes the law was initially put in place to provide extra support for students who need it, but this adjustment gives more options for families that believe their child is ready for the next step.


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