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MSCS offers plan for third graders who fail TCAP reading test

Third graders who score below proficient in reading can retake the TCAP test online up to 48 hours after receiving their results.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis Shelby County Schools (MSCS) said it will release TCAP test results Monday, May 22, and the district provided new details about alternative plans third graders who score below proficient in reading can take.

As the Third Grade Retention Law takes full effect, third graders who don't score proficient in TNReady reading must complete additional learning steps during the summer or risk being held back.

Students who don't meet score requirements can retake the test online between May 24 and May 26. The retake results will be returned within two days.

“Those results will then give us the pathways for every single child,” said Jaron Carson, MSCS Chief Academic Officer in a live stream Wednesday.

If the student still scores “Approaching” after retaking the test, parents can submit an appeal online to the Tennessee Department of Education May 30 through June 13.

If a student does not retake the test and score proficient or if a parent does not submit an appeal on behalf of their student, third graders who fail the reading portion will need to attend the Summer Learning Academy for at least 90 percent of the sessions.

For more details about the Summer Learning Academy, click here

At the end of summer learning, students must retake the TCAP reading test and score at least five percent better on the test in order to move on to the fourth grade.

Some students and parents said they were worried ahead of the release of the TCAP test scores. 

“At first I was worried for the TCAP test,” said Benjamin Farrell, a third-grade student at Arlington Elementary.

Farrell says he spent countless hours after school studying with his family, ahead of the state reading test last month.

“I read a lot of books with my mom, most of them were Pokemon,” said Farrell.

After weeks of nervous anticipation for the Farrell family, the hard work paid off, on Saturday they learned Benjamin scored proficient on his test, and he will move on to the fourth grade.

“[It was] a relief, we were on pins and needles like ‘Is he going to pass, is he going to pass?’,” said Jennifer Byerly Farrell, Benjamin’s mother.

Knox County Schools, which already received test results for students, said about 35% of their third graders risk retention.

One third grade parent felt blindsided when she learned her son did not score high enough.

“It just absolutely...it crushed us. Um, and it crushed him because he didn't see it coming either," said Sarah Gaboda.

Knox county third graders have two weeks starting on May 22 to retake the TNReady test.

Ahead of the results, MSCS said they are expecting at least 2,700 out of 6,000 third graders to attend summer learning academies, which is about 45% of the district’s third graders.

According to MSCS, only 23% of third grade students scored proficient in reading in 2022, meaning if the law went into effect last year, two out of every three third grade students would have had to repeat the third grade in Tennessee.

MSCS will be sending out thousands of phone calls, texts and emails to inform parents of whether their third grader scored proficient or not.

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