TN lawmakers discuss strengthening literacy standards as third-graders struggle with reading

Published: Jan. 22, 2021 at 3:37 AM EST
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – Tennessee lawmakers continue discussing education-related issues as part of a special session called by Gov. Bill Lee.

CBS affiliate WJHL reports one issue being targeted is literacy deficiency, especially among third graders. One bill under consideration proposes holding students back if they don’t meet certain literacy requirements on standardized tests.

Governor Bill Lee is calling to strengthen literacy requirements as state testing scores show children struggling to read. According to another bill under consideration during the special session, in 2019, Tennessee’s third grade English language arts proficiency was at 36.9%.

Several other new initiatives to boost reading-proficiency, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic challenges traditional learning, are being discussed at the special session. This includes the creation of the ‘Tennessee Accelerated Literacy and Learning Corps’ that would provide ongoing tutoring for students throughout the school year. Gov. Lee is also pushing to ensure a phonics-based approach to K-3 reading instruction.

Third graders would need to achieve on-track or mastered scores on the English language arts portion of a state standardized test. Students who don’t pass could take the test again or try to improve through learning camps or tutoring programs, which would also be established under legislation pushed by the governor.

But if students still don’t meet reading requirements they could be retained. This standard would not begin until the 2022-2023 school year.