Grainger County tops the Lakeway Area in TCAP Exam Scores

TN Dept. of Education: Roughly half of East Tennessee counties fell below state average for third-grade TCAP ELA exams. In East Tennessee, roughly half of districts scored below the state’s average of 40% for meeting expectations on the ELA portion of the TCAP exam.

CREDIT TO: WBIR STAFF, May 24, 2023, KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Department of Education released a breakdown of how districts did in the third-grade English Language Arts portion of state exams for Spring 2023.

On Monday, May 22, the department released the statewide average for the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program’s ELA scores that it said showed “historic gains in third-grade reading.”  

“Providing districts, schools and families with data about how their students are performing is essential,” said Penny Schwinn, the TDOE Commissioner. “I appreciate the dedication and ongoing efforts of Tennessee districts and schools as they work with families to help them choose the best pathway for their children and their future success.” 

Around 40% of third-grade students scored proficient across the state, which means around 60% did not. So, more than half the third-graders in Tennessee are at risk of retention after a new law took effect this school year.

According to the report, 13 East Tennessee districts scored below the statewide average proficiency of 40%, while 14 East Tennessee districts scored above. The following counties and city schools are listed below: 

The Tennessee Public Charter School Commission was at 27.76% proficiency.

Across the state, TDOE said 40% of third graders met expectations, up from 35% last year. Jon Lundberg, the Tennessee Senate Education Chairman, said there are positives.

“On the positive side, there are some very encouraging things. Obviously, the increase that we had was the largest increase we’ve ever had in Tennessee since we’ve been doing this testing. So that’s really good,” he said.

TDOE said this year’s increase in students who met expectations was the largest in a single year since the state updated its ELA academic standards in 2017. It said that before the COVID-19 pandemic, only a third of third graders in Tennessee met expectations on the exam’s ELA portion.

The remaining 60% who didn’t meet expectations could face retention.

“I don’t know how anyone could say 60% who are not proficient is good. It’s not. It’s not. We have work to do. But we’re going the right way,” Lundberg said.

Part of that work, he said, is to examine the successes at school districts that are hitting the proficiency benchmark.

“We need a chance to dig into these numbers a little further because we want to see what works well. And frankly, plagiarize that and do that across the state,” Lundberg said. “We will look at districts that are doing really, really well. Then find out what’s the secret sauce. What are they doing?”

To avoid retention, students can retake the test, enroll in summer school or advance to the fourth grade with a tutor assigned to them.

On Friday, May 19th, individual student ELA scores for third graders were released to the Tennessee school districts. School districts are responsible for mailing TCAP scores to families, notifying them if their student is at-risk for retention and pathways to fourth-grade promotion, including the TCAP retake opportunity, parent appeal-free summer camp and/or tutoring in the upcoming school year.  

Third-grade students who scored “below” or “approaching” are eligible and will be prioritized for these supports, although some students may meet certain exceptions outlined in the law. 

Families of students scoring “approaching” on the TCAP or TCAP retest have the option to request an appeal of a local retention decision on behalf of their third-grade student. 

Families should receive their final retention notification on June 24 if they did not participate in summer camp or opt for tutoring during the fourth grade. Families that chose to either go through summer camp but did not meet expectations there, such as maintaining a good attendance record, will receive a final retention notification on July 14.