Rutherford County Schools: 70% of third graders passed ELA portion of TCAP

Published: May. 28, 2023 at 8:44 PM CDT
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MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WSMV) - Officials with Rutherford County Schools (RCS) said that 70% of third graders will be able to move on to the fourth grade.

More than 56% of third graders were not proficient on the English Language Arts (ELA) portion of the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP), according to James Evans, the RCS communications director.

Evans said preliminary data shows 43.5% of RCS third graders were proficient on the ELA portion. Despite more than half not passing, Evans said this is a significant increase over 2022′s proficiency rate of 39.3%.

An additional 27% of RCS third graders are exempt from the new Tennessee law requiring the students to score proficiently on the ELA portion in order to move on to fourth grade.

Those 27% of exempt students fall into the following categories:

  • Those who are English Language Learners
  • Those who have a disability that impacts their reading
  • Those who have been previously held back

Based on preliminary figures, Evans said at least 70% of RCS third graders will move on to the next grade level.

He said district leaders are reviewing all the data for accuracy, so the percentage will likely increase.

For those at risk of being held back, there are several pathways forward.

RCS officials said the following are options for students to pass:

  • Students may be given a retake of the test by their schools and can use the results to meet the proficiency requirement
  • Parents have an option to file an appeal directly with the Tennessee Department of Education using results of a universal screener given to students after the TCAP assessments were administered
  • Students can attend free summer learning camps being held in June and/or enroll in free after-school tutoring being offered by RCS in the fall
  • Parents can file an appeal if they feel their child had a “catastrophic event” that impeded their performance on the TCAP assessment

Current third graders were the youngest set of students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Their kindergarten year was shortened by three months because of a Tennessee public school shutdown in March 2020.

“We are extremely proud of the work and collaboration of our students, teachers, and parents,” Director of Schools Dr. Jimmy Sullivan said. “Third grade is a vital point in the life of a young person, and we want to ensure success for all. The competencies shown by our students is a testament to the resiliency of this group of third graders.”