More DeKalb County 3rd graders tested proficient in reading this year, but almost 58% face risk of retention

May 26, 2023
By: Dwayne Page

Good news, bad news!

First the good news! The percentage of DeKalb County third graders who either met or exceeded expectations in Reading on the 2023 TCAP Assessment was 42.26%, significantly better than the 26% result from last year. The bad news is that almost 58% (57.74%) only approached or were below expectations and face the risk of retention. That was still better than the state average of 60% which didn’t measure up.

“Are we happy with 42% passing the test and 58% not? No! Its not what we want. We want 100% passing but the number of kids being held back in third grade doesn’t have to happen. There are some hoops they have to jump through, summer school and things of that nature, but from where we started last year, when only 26% passed the test, we have improved greatly and that goes to show that when you (teachers and administrators) get in that curriculum and teach what the state sends with fidelity students will have success” said Director of Schools Patrick Cripps.

The Tennessee Department of Education this week released district-level TCAP average scores across the state for third grade ELA from the spring 2023 TCAP administration.

The department also released statewide averages for third grade TCAP ELA scores ahead of previous years’ timelines, highlighting historic gains in third grade reading after the launch of a new, comprehensive K-3 literacy strategy for Tennessee public schools.

The DeKalb County School District is sending correspondence to parents of students who didn’t make the grade outlining the path forward for their promotion to fourth grade. Those students will either have to re-take the test, go to summer school, undergo tutoring next school year, or appeal the decision based on the Third Grade Retention Law. There are several exemptions to the law, like students with disabilities that affect their reading and certain English language learners.

The DeKalb County data is broken down as follows:
• 13.62% exceeded expectations
• 28.64% met expectations
• 32.86% approached expectations
• 24.88% below expectations

“Providing districts, schools, and families with data about how their students are performing is essential,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “I appreciate the dedication and ongoing efforts of Tennessee districts and schools as they work with families to help them choose the best pathway for their children and their future success.”

Last Friday, May 19th, individual student ELA scores for third graders were shared with Tennessee school districts, which are responsible for communicating with families about their student’s score and pathways to fourth grade promotion, including the TCAP retake opportunity, parent appeal free summer camp and/or tutoring in the upcoming school year.

Third grade students who scored “below” or “approaching” are eligible and will be prioritized for these supports, although some students may meet certain exceptions outlined in the law.

Thanks to legislation passed by Governor Bill Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly, the grades eligible for all summer learning camps has been expanded to rising kindergarten through 9th grade students, which are meant to support students who will benefit from additional learning supports and meet the participation requirements for promotion to fourth grade. In the coming weeks, districts and schools will work with families to determine the best pathway for their student.

Families of students scoring “approaching” on the TCAP or TCAP retest also have the option to request an appeal of a local retention decision on behalf of their third-grade student. The form to submit an appeal for the department’s consideration will be on this webpage and opens May 30, 2023 and closes June 30, 2023.

Families can find critical timeline information posted on the department’s website and should coordinate with their student’s school to ensure they can make informed decisions about their student’s education. The annual, full TCAP release, including all grades and subjects for state-level and district-level results, will be released in separate announcements later this summer.

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