‘The bar is set too high’ | Teachers react to third-grade English TCAP results

Teachers want more of a say in a student’s fourth-grade eligibility and argue too much weight is on one test
Teachers want more of a say in a student’s fourth-grade eligibility and argue too much weight is on one test
Published: May. 24, 2023 at 6:48 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - East Tennessee teachers are angry with the third-grade retention law and TCAP testing.

Previous Coverage: Only 40% of Tenn. third-graders ready for fourth grade, Dept. of Education says

One teacher said it’s not a fair system for students.

“Their going onto the next grade level depends on one test,” said one East Tennessee elementary school teacher about the state’s retention law. The teacher agreed to speak under the condition of anonymity.

The teacher said the law is flawed and echoed parents’ concerns by saying it’s not fair to take teachers out of the picture.

Previous Coverage: ‘I was shocked’ | Parents react after kids do not pass English section of TCAP

“It should be the decision of the parent and the teacher, and the student should be involved too,” the teacher said. “It shouldn’t be left up to one test that teachers never see.”

The teacher said putting that much weight onto one test creates too much anxiety for students.

60% of third-graders statewide scored “below” or “approaching” proficiency on the English section of TCAP, which makes those students vulnerable to summer school, or repeating the grade.

Previous Coverage: How did East Tennessee third-graders do on the English TCAPs?

“I think the bar is set too high. I think the expectation is set too high for an eight or nine-year-old,” the teacher said.

Students who pass the retest can go to the fourth grade. Students who fail the retest have to either go to summer school or get a state-provided tutor throughout their fourth-grade year. Repeating the grade is the last option.

Some parents have complained about the system by saying their child had an A in English all year and still failed TCAP English.

Sen. Jon Lundberg, Education Committee Chairman, suggested teachers are under pressure to pass students, which could lead to passing grades.

“The pressure has been on those teachers to pass our students,” Lundberg said. “Are grades inflated? I don’t know. But it’s a question I think a lot of folks have to ask.”

The anonymous teacher responded to those comments and said politicians aren’t teachers.

“Mr. Lundberg has no teaching credentials, and we’re the professionals. We treat this, and the kids, professionally.”

The teacher said they will always have the child’s best interest in mind, and that teachers should be considered when it comes to their educational future.

The Tennessee Department of Education made practice tests for the English Language Arts subpart of the TCAP. Anyone interested can view the test below.