Legislators Set New Rules For Controversial Third Grade Retention Law

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The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –

Tennessee’s controversial third-grade retention law had new rules go into effect this week. 

Third-grade students are at risk of getting held back, per this written law, if they do not pass the state reading test. Students will be required to attend summer school and/or tutoring the following school year to prevent being held back. 

Some parents and local school boards have spoken out against the law, saying retention is a local matter and should be based on more factors than one test. 

“While I appreciate the concern of the lawmakers, I definitely think it’s an overstep, or an overreach for them to start making decisions about our children when they’re just a number on the page,” parent Anna Sturm said.

New rules were passed last week by a joint government operations committee that outlines an appeal process for parents. 

The new rules say that a parent or guardian must have an appeal submitted within 14 days of receiving the notice of the student’s retention risk. There will be people designated by the education commissioner to review the appeals. If students demonstrated growth on reading screeners or benchmark assessments, or if the student has experienced a “catastrophic situation” near the time of the test, the appeals will be approved. 

During the ruling hearing, some lawmakers expressed concern surrounding the law. 

Senator Page Walley (R-Savannah-District 26) said he has heard from many constituents that they are concerned. 

“I’m not sure that we were as thoughtful as we needed to be legislatively when we passed the law to begin with,” Walley said.

Explaining that he wants to keep decisions at a local level, but also wants something to be done to improve Tennessee’s literacy rates, Senator Mark Pody (R-Lebanon-District 17) said he is also struggling with the law. Last year, only about 36 percent of students met or exceeded expectations on the state reading test. 

“It’s not that I’m jumping up and down with this, but I’m reluctantly going to have to support it because I don’t see any other school system saying, ‘we fixed the problem’ or ‘we did it,’” Pody said.

FOX 17 News reached out to lawmakers in the committee asking whether they plan to file legislation to modify the law based on concerns they have from lawmakers.

Replying via email, Senator Walley says he does not plan to introduce legislation but does plan to work alongside lawmakers in the Senate Education Committee to consider modifications or delayed implementation. 

Current exceptions to the law include students with learning disabilities or suspected learning disabilities, English language learners, or students who have already been held back.  

About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative  ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career.  Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others.  He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History.  Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com

4 thoughts on “Legislators Set New Rules For Controversial Third Grade Retention Law

  • December 7, 2022 at 10:27 pm

    So let me get this right, the schools shut down and masked children without any scientific proof to back the reason and now the children aren’t allowed to graduate with their classmates because of the failure of the state/county? How about stop focusing on drag queen shows and focus on teaching children and hire quality teachers instead of woke groomers.

    • December 8, 2022 at 8:41 am

      I was going to comment on this article but you made my points for me. Thank you.

  • December 8, 2022 at 12:53 pm

    If a child can’t read at his or her level why would anyone pass them to the next grade???? I was held back one year and I learned to work harder because I was not with the kids I grew up with. They all went on and I repeated a year. So parents want their children to keep passing the grade even though they were lazy and apply their selves. Maybe these parents should pay more attention to their children instead of their phones and lives. Right how we have children who can’t even write their name is cursive. How do they expect to get a checking account or go through live with out knowing how to read or write.

    • December 11, 2022 at 6:21 pm

      And your spelling and grammar shows it didn’t help.


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