Bill Changing Fourth-grade Retention Rules Heads to Gov. Bill Lee's Desk

In 2023, many third-graders were at risk of repeating the grade if they did not perform well on TCAP exams. It is possible for it to happen again, but it might appear slightly different.

Tennessee lawmakers made rules in 2023 that say third-graders who don’t do well on the TCAP exams can’t move on to the next grade. They also said that some fourth-graders who don’t do well on exams might have to repeat the grade. A bill that is on its way to Governor Bill Lee’s desk would modify the regulations regarding the retention of fourth-graders.

The new bill, HB 2326, aimed to provide fourth graders with additional opportunities to move on to the fifth grade. The House version of the proposal stated that parents would need to meet with educators to discuss their child’s performance. If the child received educational interventions, they would be allowed to move on to the fifth grade. The House and Senate initially had different opinions on the specific aspects of the bill, so it had to go through a Conference Committee before it was approved.

Sarah Ray is the mother of three children who are in the fourth grade and were born at the same time. She said that she and her children both experience the feeling of anxiety.

“I had one pet who died last year,” said Ray. “And it’s not even a problem for that child this year. However, we have observed some unusual behaviors that I now recognize as anxiety. It has been quite difficult. And now they are constantly worried about not being able to keep up with their friends in school. They are constantly stressed.

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Many other parents feel the same way as Sarah. Katherine Bike serves as a member of the Knox County Schools Board. She is also the mother of a student in the fourth grade. She suggested that providing additional funding and support for educators could help address this issue.

“Educators say that they need more time and support,” said Bike. “And honestly, it’s important for them to receive payment so that they don’t have to work two jobs.” You can begin there. However, I also believe that it is crucial to have the freedom to educate children in a way that suits their individual needs and learning styles. Experienced teachers do understand that. However, many times they are limited by the tasks we must complete, which are determined by the instructions given by the state. Ray mentioned that she has some advice for other parents who might be experiencing a similar situation as her.

“I don’t know what, I don’t know,” Ray said. “When I don’t know something, it’s my responsibility to find out and learn, especially for accountability reasons and similar purposes.” However, it is important to determine the areas where your child is facing difficulties. Personally, I often question why, where, and how these struggles are occurring. I always try to find the help they need, like tutoring or anything else.

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