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76% of Memphis-Shelby County Schools third graders fall short on TCAP

While they are seeing gains, MSCS said more than three-quarters of third graders still fell short on their scores and may have to repeat the grade.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis-Shelby County Schools has released its Spring 2023 TCAP data, and while district leaders said they are seeing gains, MSCS said more than three-quarters of third graders still fell short on their scores.

Under the new third-grade retention law, students who fail to score high enough on the standardized TCAP test can retake the test or face possible summer school or a tutoring program to be able to move on to the fourth grade.

According to the numbers MSCS released Wednesday, May 24, 2023:

  • 42% scored ‘below’ proficiency (compared to 48% last year for the same students)
  • 34% scored ‘approaching’ proficiency (compared to 36% last year for the same students)
  • 23.6% scored ‘proficient’ (compared to 16.5% last year for the same students)

MSCS said scores for the class of 2032 (this year’s third graders) were on par with last year’s third graders, the class of 2031.

*MSCS has approximately 8,500 third graders in charter- and District-managed schools; approximately 7,000 of those students are in District-managed schools. 

MSCS said on the English Language Arts (ELA) section of the TCAP, third graders showed a 7% growth in proficiency, defined as “meets expectations” and “exceeds expectations.” District officials said there was a 7% reduction in nonproficiency, defined as “below expectations” and “approaching expectations.”

Statewide, The Tennessee Department of Education said 60% of third graders scored non-proficient and 40% scored proficient.

RELATED: Memphis-area school district TCAP scores: Here's how each district faired

MSCS said the TDOE release of raw data “does not factor in the accountability measures that make adjustments for English language learners, special education students, and students who were enrolled in MSCS less than 50% of the year. Those adjustments usually improve MSCS scores.”

Starting kindergarten in 2019, this class of third graders has seen their school disrupted by the COVID pandemic since first grade, when they were in virtual learning for most of the year. Second grade was their first full year for in-person learning, said MSCS.

“Because of their resilience and our interventions, the class of 2032 is making gains, and we’re optimistic that these gains will continue,” said Interim Superintendent Toni Williams in a news release. “Being one of our youngest groups of students at the start of the pandemic, they will continue to need extra support to move further faster, and the District will continue to provide it.”

MSCS said based on diagnostic scores, this winter school leaders alerted the parents of about 5,300 students in District-managed schools and auto-enrolled them in Summer Learning Academy, which runs June 20-July 19.

Credit: Memphis-Shelby County Schools
Credit: Memphis-Shelby County Schools

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