Third and fourth grade retention report released

White County director of schools provides positive input


Tennessee Department of Education recently released the statewide results for the English Language Arts portion of the spring 2024 TCAP tests as they relate to third and fourth graders across the state. According to the report, third grade scores remained steady while fourth grade students saw a significant improvement which they attribute to Tennessee’s nation-leading, comprehensive statewide literacy strategy.

White County Director of Schools Kurt Dronebarger recently told school board members the new laws are not putting a burden on the White County school system and overcrowding within the elementary schools because of laws that require third and fourth grade students who do not meet expectations be retained is not something that he is seeing in White County.

“Tennessee’s strategic education investments have resulted in significant gains in reading for students across the state,” Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said. “As we continue our work to ensure that all Tennessee students can read at grade level, we remain committed to supporting teachers and empowering families with multiple pathways to achievement so every student can thrive in their academic journey.”

Third grade improvement had a slight increase with the state average reaching a 40.9 percent proficient rate. The state’s fourth graders saw a 2.9 percentage point increase in their proficiency rate reaching a 46.4 percent proficient. This was a year-over-year gain for this year’s cohorts of students who reached an historic achievement level just last year. In addition, this year’s fourth graders saw fewer students score in the “below expectations” level than ever before proving the state’s initiative is helping more students reach expectations.

“Due to the hard work of students, teachers, districts, and families, the investments and initiatives to improve literacy rates in Tennessee have resulted in year-after-year gains, thanks to the dedication of Gov. Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly,” Lizzette Reynolds, the Tennessee Commissioner of Education, said. “With the partnership of our districts and schools, we will continue the course to ensure all students are provided with opportunities and resources to be successful readers and learners.”

It has long been known that reading is the foundation to all learning, and studies have proven that third grade is a critical milestone in establishing a pathway for future success. Prior to 2020, only one-third of Tennessee third graders had met expectations on the state’s ELA test. This prompted Governor Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly to pass legislation to mitigate learning loss and strengthen Tennessee’s literacy strategy. The Reading 360, coupled with other supports, has created a comprehensive approach to boost reading skills for kindergarten through third graders with the goal of having the majority of students reading on grade level and empowering them to excel as they enter fourth grade.

Third and fourth grade students who may need extra support to enhance their ELA skills have multiple pathways available to them including in-school small group help, after school tutoring, summer school, and a variety of programs and resources available through the state’s DOE website.


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