MNPS board voted unanimously asking state lawmakers to repeal third grade retention law

MNPS board
Posted at 9:30 PM, Jan 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-10 23:41:00-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — It's the start of Tennessee's legislative session. Many school boards are asking lawmakers to appeal or remove a law they say does more harm than good.

The third grade retention law has sparked controversy across the state.

The law says if third graders don't score proficient on a state test they must repeat the grade or go to summer school.

Metro Nashville Board of Public Education members voted unanimously on a resolution that asks lawmakers to repeal the law to allow school districts to make retention decisions for third and fourth grade students — not lawmakers.

"This law will hurt families of third grade students across the state, and it will throw our school systems into unnecessary upheaval. It must be amended or repealed," said board member Abigail Taylor.

Lawmakers passed it back in 2021 to help students recover from learning loss during the pandemic.

But teachers say this law is not the answer.

"To my knowledge, no one asks third grade teachers or students their thoughts when it comes to this law," said Tanya Drossner, a third grade teacher.

During public comment teachers, members of the local teacher's union and the community spoke out against the law that went into effect this year.

According to the school board, if this law was enacted in 2019, 63% of Tennessee third graders would have been at risk of retention.

"We know that one day and one test should not be the sole instrument in determining a child's ability to read — especially when the test has been historically unreliable," said Michele Sheriff, MNEA president.

Metro Nashville Public Schools sent letters to parents of third graders last month to make sure they're prepared if their children don't pass a state reading test.

MNPS is encouraging parents to plan on registering their students in its summer learning program.

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