Tennessee Rep Proposes Bill To Raise Age Requirement for First Grade

Image Credit: Alliance for Excellent Education / CC

The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –

As educators and parents across the state continue to debate the new third grade retention law, State Representative Scott Cepicky (R-Culleoka-District 64) has plans to introduce some new and different legislation.

According to data provided by the Tennessee Comptroller, older students are more successful in the classroom than younger students.

“It showed that older students were almost outperforming our younger students at a two-to-one ratio,” Cepicky said. “That is a huge number, you’re talking about possibly raising our literacy rates 15 to 20%. That would put us almost top ten in the nation in education.”

Cepicky’s solution to this problem is a different approach to making sure students are mature enough to handle the given material for their grade level.

His proposed bill would hold students back in kindergarten if an assessment showed they were not prepared to move on to the first grade.

“You have to turn seven before the grade starts or take a local assessment to show that you can do the work in first grade to allow those students to segway in who are younger,” Cepicky explained.

He continued, “Could we create a classroom that older students could take advantage of to get better results for us in Tennessee? We’re hoping this bill could be just another bullet in the holster to get us where we want to be in Tennessee.”

Some legislators, however, believe the bill actually goes against Republicans’ own recent arguments in education.

Representative Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville-District 90) noted that Republicans have spent a great deal of time talking about “parental choice” in education.

“The people who scream about parent choice are taking away the parents’ choice here. Some kids are ready, and they need to get them to school,” Johnson said. “Some kids aren’t, and a lot of parents make that decision. But why would we legislate that?”

Johnson argues that this would actually place greater burden on parents by removing that choice.

“What you’re going to have is another year sitting at home for kids who don’t have any resources at home,” Johnson said. “So, really, they’re just going to get further behind.”

Cepicky argues that students are actually going to see benefits by being better prepared for the future.

“Our students can take advantage of what they want to do because they’re successful in school, not have limiting factors of what they’re eligible for because of their lack of success,” he stated.

Cepicky plans to file the bill, which will then make its way to the General Assembly. He believes there is a strong possibility that the bill could pass.

“The data that the Comptroller has supplied is huge for us, it’s not an opinion. The Comptroller gave us factual evidence,” Cepicky said. “If we can talk through this, it stands a better chance for passing than failing.”

In the Tennessee House, Cepicky serves as Chair of the Education Instruction Subcommittee, and is a member of the Education Administration Committee, Education Instruction Committee and K-12 Subcommittee.

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

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