Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs issues statement on literacy rates

“Knox County is seeing important academic gains this year,” Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs said.
“Knox County is seeing important academic gains this year,” Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs said.
Published: May. 30, 2023 at 10:31 AM EDT|Updated: May. 30, 2023 at 12:19 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Knox County Mayor has issued a statement on Knox County literacy rates in the wake of Tennessee issuing how third-graders do on the English TCAPs test.

Mayor Glenn Jacobs said “Knox County is seeing important academic gains this year. Countywide, third-grade English language arts proficiency increased 11 percent, meaning 42.9% of students - more than the state average - met or exceeded the state literacy standard. Factor in students who retested and those exempt from interventions, and the number of third graders meeting the advancement criteria goes up to 70%.

WVLT reported how all the area school systems did on the English TCAPs this year; on average, only 40% of Tennessee third-graders statewide made the cut.

Maryville City Schools was the fourth-best performing school system in the state with a 74.68% proficiency rate. Only four East Tennessee school systems ranked above 50% in their proficiency rate while Knox County Schools was at 42.9%.

“It’s easy to get lost in percentages when we talk about growth in education, but the fact is that improving literacy is good for Knox County. Strong readers become successful students who are more likely to graduate high school. High school graduates are more likely to seek continuing education, get good jobs, and start their lives here—in the community that raised them.” Jacobs said.

Of the initial Knox County 1,587 students who initially scored below the proficiency benchmark, 83% chose to retake the test. 213 students who retook the test will now move on to the fourth grade, according to Knox County Schools.

Jacobs said that this loss can easily be avoided by engaging kids in basic reading and math throughout the summer. Suggestions include attending summer camps/programs; playing physical and online educational games; using practice workbooks; participating in imaginative play; and completing reading challenges.

The Tennessee Department of Education made practice tests for the English Language Arts part of the TCAP.

WVLT talked to several teachers last week that are angry with the third-grade retention law and TCAP testing that want more of a say in a student’s fourth-grade eligibility and argue too much weight is on one test.

Mayor Jacobs said “Our teachers—with the support of school administration, Superintendent Jon Rysewyk, and the community—have worked diligently to improve important foundational skills and early literacy instruction. Clearly, that work is paying off and we should celebrate their victory.”