Tennessee Gov. Responds to Criticism of Class Three Withholding Act

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WKRN) — Parents and guardians are still out of their depth after published TCAP results show thousands of children are being forced to send their students to summer school or tutoring next school year.

“My son is in counseling right now,” said Shelley Walker, parent of the Knox County School. “We got to the bottom of it because he’s having nightmares about failing third grade.”

Walker says her son is emotionally and physically burnt out and frankly doesn’t want to send him to summer school.

“As a parent, I just feel like this is letting the public school system down,” she said. “So this past weekend I spent the weekend applying to all the private schools in Knoxville and trying to figure out which ones I could enroll him in fourth grade.”

TCAP Quiz: Can You Pass the Grade 3 ELA Assessment?

Her plan echoes that of many parents who are unhappy with the state’s third grade retention law. But state leaders seem to think it’s working.

“I think we can see how this works in the future,” said Gov. Bill Lee (D-Tennessee). “I’m happy where he is.”

It’s a widespread sentiment among leading Republicans.

“There’s some fine-tuning possible, but as far as the general direction of the law, I’m happy with it,” said Lieutenant Gov. Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge).

Lee says he is a grandparent to young children and understands the challenges and importance of having students ready to move forward.

“We have tutoring, we have summer programs, we have retesting to make sure these third graders can actually read and are ready to go before they move on to fourth grade,” he said. “We shouldn’t push them forward if they can’t succeed in the future.”

‘I don’t feel smart just because of a test’: 8-year-old writes to lawmakers in response to 3rd grade withholding law

Lee and other senior Republicans have consistently said that kids need to be able to read to get ahead.

“We have to make sure the kids can read. One of the worst things we can do is push a kid into school who can’t read,” Li said. “It’s almost a certainty of their future failure.”

But parents see how legislators make decisions, not including teachers and administrators – people on the ground. In addition, they say that their children can read, and one test does not determine this.

“Maybe they don’t care. I don’t know, Walker said. “They don’t seem to care because they’re sitting at these desks shaping these laws for these kids that they don’t know anything about based on this one test.”

Read the latest news from the Tennessee State Capitol Newsroom.

Walker and other parents noted that the anxiety about the law had disastrous consequences.

“He is curled up in a ball, just crying, because he is turned inside out by what he has to go through next week. As a parent, we don’t know when the retake is, we don’t know what’s going on, his teachers don’t know what’s going on,” Walker said. “I don’t know his test results, we don’t know what he missed on the test. Like none of this. None of this is shared with us.”

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