Third Grade

Promotion and Retention of Third Grade Students

 

 How the Tennessee State Law May Affect Your Student

In 2021, the Tennessee General Assembly passed a law that requires 3rd grade students to "meet or exceed" expectations on the ELA portion of TCAP testing, or receive intervention services provided by the school district, in order to be promoted to the 4th grade. It is important to know that most students in Tennessee (nearly 65% in 2022) do not "meet or exceed" expectations on this test due to the intentionally difficult standards, so it is a law that will impact many families across the state and it may not reflect the growth and progress your student may be making towards their learning goals. 

Metro Nashville Public Schools is mandated by the state to enact the provisions of this law, and our teams at the district and school level are going to work with families to ensure you have the information and resources you need for your student to remain on track in their education.

This page provides information on how the law works and what you can expect for your student and from your school in the coming months.
What is the TCAP Test? 

TCAP stands for the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program, and students in grades 3-8 are required by the state to be assessed on their knowledge or mastery of the Tennessee State Education Standards for their grade level in areas such as ELA, Math, Science, and Social Studies. 

  • TCAP assessments for 3rd graders took place at each school during the window of April 17 through April 28 of 2023. 
  • TCAP results for 3rd grade students should be available to families by May 19 according to the Tennessee Department of Education.
  • MNPS uses benchmark assessments at three points throughout the school year to measure the growth and progress of students in alignment to the educational standards that are measured by TCAP. 
  • Some students may take alternative assessments to the TCAP test based on their individual needs. two third-grade students

As TCAP results are not available until the very end or after the school year concludes, we are encouraging all 3rd grade families to sign their student up for the Promising Scholars summer learning camp now to save your place if needed. Regardless of whether they are required to attend, we believe it is a great opportunity for students to engage in free summer learning with their peers, with transportation and meals provided at no-cost.

Our Accelerating Scholars high-impact tutoring program is another support that may be required for students to participate in during the 23-24 school year based on their TCAP scores. Those supports and interventions will be assigned by the school and families are not required to sign-up in advance. 

The Law May Not Apply to Students in Three Specific Categories

If you answer Yes to any of these questions, the mandates in this law likely will not apply to your child:

  • Does your child have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) that provides services for reading?
  • Has your child received less than two years of English Language (EL) services?
  • Is your child currently being evaluated for a disability (IEP) that might include services for reading?
Has Your Child Been Previously Retained?
  • If your child has been previously retained in Grades K to 3, the mandates in this law will not apply to your child.
Did Your Child Receive an Approaching Expectations Score?
  • If your child received, or is projected to receive, a score of Approaching Expectations for ELA your child is at risk of not meeting proficiency criteria. The law requires that they participate in a summer learning camp or receive high-impact tutoring the following school year. You should plan for your child to attend Promising Scholars this summer to meet the mandates in this new state law.
    •  The district sent letters in December and February notifying parents of their child’s predicted proficiency level. 
  • Parents of students in the Approaching category may also appeal the decision to the Tennessee Board of Education under certain circumstances. 
Did Your Child Receive a Below Expectations Score?
  • If your child received, or is projected to receive, a score of Below Expectations for ELA, your child is at risk of not meeting proficiency criteria. Students receiving a below expectations score will be required to attend a summer learning camp and receive high-impact tutoring in the following school year. You should plan for your child to attend Promising Scholars this summer and participate in the Accelerating Scholars high-impact tutoring program during the upcoming school year to meet the mandates in this new state law.
    • The district sent letters in December and February notifying parents of their child’s predicted proficiency level. 
Assessment Re-Take Plans
  • If your child receives a score of Below Expectations or Approaching Expectations, students will re-take the test at their school between May 22 and May 24. The re-take examinations will be a shorter version of the ELA portion of TCAP, administered online, and take approximately 75 minutes to complete. Parents should know their student's results within approximately two (2) days following the conclusion of testing in the district. 

It is highly recommended for all students who re-take the assessment to enroll and plan for participating in Promising Scholars.

 

Informational Meetings on Teams

Metro Nashville Public Schools is hosting a series of informational meetings for parents and guardians of third and fourth grade students who have questions about Tennessee’s Third Grade Retention law and how it could impact our third and fourth graders.

  • These meetings are scheduled from Feb. 27 through March 7 and will be virtual on Teams. The links to each meeting are listed by date in tabs on this page.
  • Parents and guardians who have questions or need specific information should follow-up with their child’s teacher or school.

Spanish interpreters will be available for meetings for families with third grade students March 6 and fourth grade students on March 7. Links are in the tabs. 

 

Third Grade Promotion Law Frequently Asked Questions

Updated February 2024

If a student is not proficient on the 3rd grade English language arts (ELA) section of the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) assessment, what are the pathways for promoting them to 4th grade?

Attend Promising Scholars during the summer and/or Accelerating Scholars throughout the 4th grade year. Students must also make adequate growth on their 4th grade ELA TCAP.

Who determines whether an individual student meets one of the exceptions in relation to retention?

Schools in conjunction with MNPS personnel must determine whether an individual student meets one of the circumstances that exempts the student from retention. All decisions regarding exemptions must be made on a case-by-case basis considering the unique needs and circumstances of the individual student and documented in the student’s file.

Is there an appeal procedure available for a 3rd grade student who has been determined to not be proficient in ELA and therefore may not be promoted to the next grade level?

Yes, for students who have achieved the performance level of “approaching” on the ELA portion of the TCAP. Pursuant to T.C.A. § 49-6-3115(d), the State Board of Education promulgated rules to establish an appeals process, to be administered by the department, for a student who is identified for retention in 3rd grade based on the student’s achieving a performance level rating of “approaching” on the ELA portion of the student’s most recent TCAP test. The law and subsequent rules require that if an appeal is filed, the filing must be made by the student’s parent or guardian or authorized school personnel (principal, teacher, guidance counselor or other administrators) with written consent from parent.

How does an LEA make a promotion decision for a 3rd grade student who does not have a score on the ELA portion of the TCAP?

Based on the language of T.C.A. § 49-6-3115 (a), if a 3rd grade student does not take the TCAP or generate a score on the ELA portion of the TCAP and does not qualify for an exemption described in question #2 above, the student should be treated as if the student is not proficient in ELA. The law states, “Beginning with the 2022-2023 school year, a student in the 3rd grade shall not be promoted to the next grade level unless the student is determined to be proficient in English language arts (ELA) based on the student’s achieving a performance level rating of “on track” or “mastered” on the ELA portion of the student’s most recent Tennessee comprehensive assessment program (TCAP) test.”

If a student elects to attend Promising Scholars as a condition to being promoted to 4th grade and does not attend at least 90% of the days of the program, will they automatically be retained?

The law requires a student to maintain a 90% attendance rate as a condition of being promoted to the next grade. However, MNPS is determining how to offer make up services as needed in the event a student falls below 90% through no fault of their own.

What are the dates for Promising Scholars?

Promising Scholars will be held from May 30  to June 28. Visit the Promising Scholars page for additional information for Promising Scholars.

What does the TCAP retake entail and when will it be available?

The TCAP retake assessment will be multiple choice/multiple choice select to allow for immediate scoring of the assessment. It will be administered on a computer and pre-equated, to allow for a scale score to be produced for the LEA within two (2) business days. The retake window will take place between May 22, 2024 and May 31, 2024.

TCAP retakes for MNPS will begin May 22, 2024 at the students’ current school. The last day of school in MNPS is May 23, 2024. Schools will coordinate testing dates and times between May 22, 2024 – May 31, 2024.

What information is available regarding the pre-test and post-tests for summer programming?

The TCAP will serve as the “pre-test” for summer programming. The “post-test” will be comprised of TCAP-aligned items and is designed to take less than one hour to complete. The assessment will be administered online and will allow for accommodations. The post-test administration will begin June 10, 2024 at the Promising Scholars Site.

Should an English learner (EL) who has received more than two (2) years of English instruction, but is not considered to be proficient in the English language according to SBE Rule 0520-01-19, be retained?

An EL should be never be retained based solely on a lack of English language proficiency. The law reinforces this by providing that an EL who is deemed not proficient in ELA may be promoted if the EL has received less than two (2) years of ELA instruction. However, an EL who has received more than two (2) years of ELA instruction may still not be retained if it is determined that the EL is not proficient in ELA based solely on a lack of English language proficiency. Local education agencies (LEAs) must determine whether an individual EL should be retained, based on the EL’s individual needs. All decisions regarding the retention of an EL must be made on a case-by-case basis by the LEA or public charter school considering the unique needs, circumstances, and linguistic ability of the individual EL and documented in the EL’s file. Most of the 3rd grade retention decisions will be easily and quickly determined by an LEA based on the EL’s Individual Learning Plan (ILP) and other educational records, but some will require a more in-depth analysis that will need to include conversations among parents and local educators with knowledge of language acquisition and knowledge of the EL after a review of all the individual EL’s records. The law is intended to identify students who have a deficiency in reading that is not caused by a disability or lack of English language proficiency and to provide those students with additional general supports to improve their reading proficiency before they are promoted to the 4th grade.

What data and information should be considered when making 3rd grade retention decisions for ELs?

The following data and information should be taken into consideration when discussing possible retention of ELs: years of schooling in the U.S., language proficiency scores, EL’s stage of language acquisition, ILPs, input from classroom teachers, cultural and linguistic factors, EL’s access to scaffolds, interventions, and level of parental involvement.

If I have additional questions, what do I do?

Please email our staff. Someone will respond to your question within 48 hours. 

 

Resources and Translated Documents