New Third Grade Law Impacting Students, Families
TNReady results are driving possible retention of thousands of students
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The results of TNReady are now dictating whether or not third grade students will face repeating the grade.
The state’s new retention law for third grade takes effect this year.
And the impact is being felt across districts right now.
Here’s a story out of Knoxville that explains what’s happening:
A spokesperson with Knox County Schools said that around 1,600 third-grade, non-exempt students scored below the threshold on the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program.
The results of this test determine whether or not a third-grade student is meeting grade-level expectations. Those that score "approaching" or "below" grade level expectations, by law are at risk of retention. To avoid retention, students can retake the test, enroll in summer school or advance to the fourth grade with a tutor assigned to them.
Parents of students who fall into the potential retention score range received messages like this one:
So, as the school year is ending, kids are being asked to take ONE MORE test with their summer hanging in the balance - and the potential to have to repeat third grade in the back of their and their parents’ minds.
Meanwhile, at least one state that has tried this sort of policy finally repealed it but left in place some key supports for early reading.
Here’s what else is interesting about the Michigan repeal:
"Let's use that money for reading intervention specialists, for literacy coaches, after school programs, summer school programs, to tackle the issue that way, instead of being reactive and just holding them back in a punitive and punishing way," said Rep. Nate Shannon, D-Sterling Heights.
The bill passed Tuesday repeals the retention aspect of the law, but retains other elements such as staffing recommendations, reading intervention services, and the use of evidence-based curricula and instructional material.
Tennessee, of course, is plowing ahead with the worst aspects of the law with little in the way of added state support for students or schools.
A Word on Teacher Pay
Gov. Bill Lee has been bragging lately about how Tennessee will eventually be a Top 10 state in the country for teacher pay.
This whole claim about becoming a Top 10 state for teacher pay reminds me of the time then-Gov. Bill Haslam promised that Tennessee would be the “fastest-improving state in the nation in teacher pay” only to back down on that promise just a few months later.
Here are some inconvenient facts about Lee’s claims:
Here’s more from NewsBreak:
“Tennessee teachers are the best in the Southeast, and we have the outcomes and data to back that up, but we are not paid as the best and are behind our peers in neighboring states,” said TEA President Tanya Coats. “Teachers, like other Tennesseans, have been affected by inflation and rising costs in the family budget. State revenues are strong, and we’ve seen record budget surpluses for many years. More can be done to improve the economics of being a professional teacher in our state, and TEA will continue to advocate for professional salaries for our dedicate educators.”
Coats noted that the proposed teacher pay increase will bring Tennessee’s minimum teacher salary to $42,000 a year. She then pointed out that Alabama’s minimum teacher pay is $43,358.
Yes, that’s right – even with a 4% raise this year, Tennessee teachers will still lag behind neighboring Alabama in teacher pay.
Only 25% of Tennessee’s teachers currently earn more than $60,000/year. Only 7 states trail Tennessee in this number.
Based on Tennessee’s policy trends, this is not surprising.
That’s a LONG way from the Top 10.
Of course, we could afford to give a substantial raise to all teachers.
But Lee and legislative policymakers have chosen not to do that. Repeatedly.
An 85-minute test for 3rd graders? Are they supposed to take this test in one sitting? This is child abuse. In a classroom setting, my high school students balk at any test that takes longer than about 20 minutes. It's probably all about money. I'm sure that tutoring vendors are lined up right and left, ready to get their share of public education $$. I bet these vendors are donating generously to Republican legislators. It would be interesting to know.
Lee is duplicitous about teachers "having control of their paychecks," when what he really means is "We Republicans were successful in banning the teachers' union (TEA) from allowing members to choose automatic payroll deduction to pay their dues." We teachers always DID have control of our paychecks in that regard! Most of CHOSE payroll deduction! Lee's legislation to ban the teachers' union (TEA) from payroll deduction was a move to punish us for speaking out against his goal to privatize education via charter schools and vouchers. He hopes to destroy our union. Firefighters, policemen, government employees are all allowed to pay union dues via payroll deduction. All EXCEPT teachers. Go figure. Why doesn't he give them "control" over their paychecks too? He wants to weaken us because he knows our Union fights for public education!