When the results were released on Friday, May 19, 55.7 percent of Tipton County third graders were promoted to fourth grade. 

Under Tennessee’s controversial third grade retention bill, promotion to the fourth grade rests on scoring in the proficient range on this single test.

That means even straight A students can – and did – fail the third grade by the legislature’s new standard. 


Statewide, that number was approximately 60 percent, meaning 40 percent advanced. Tipton County’s average was 15.7 percent better:

  • 40.19% of 3rd graders were proficient on the ELA TCAP test (as reported by the TDOE)
  • 15.49% were exempt under provisions in the law

The Tennessee Department of Education called the gains made by the state’s third graders historic, citing: 

  • the largest increase in a single year of third graders whose ELA scores met or exceeded expectations since Tennessee updated its ELA academic standards in 2017.
  • 40 percent of third grade students scored proficient in ELA – a 4.3 percentage point increase from the previous year.
  • the largest percentage of third grade students scoring in the top performance category in over a decade, with overall proficiency growing by almost eight percentage points from 2021 decreases impacted by the pandemic.

For students in Tipton County, a tornado also complicated matters. 

Last month as standardized testing was getting underway, Governor Bill Lee refused to grant a waiver for Crestview Elementary and Middle students whose schools were both destroyed by an EF-3 tornado on March 31. 

Middle school students tested at Covington High School and elementary school students tested at Charger Academy. 

One local mother shared her student’s report card on social media, noting her child’s grades were all in the 90s yet her child was retained. 

What happens now?

Tipton County Schools Director of Instruction Dr. Rebekah Byrd said the 44.3 percent were identified for retesting.

Of those who took the test on Monday, 15.8 percent were proficient.

Byrd said a parent or legal guardian of an eligible student who achieved the performance level of “approaching” on the ELA portion of the 3rd grade TCAP test may submit an appeal if the student received a score at or above the 40th percentile on their spring universal reading screener or a catastrophic situation occurred during the days leading up to the TCAP test that impacted the 3rd grade student’s ability to perform on the test. 

“Catastrophic situations include, but are not limited to, a death in the immediate family, loss of a family home, significant medical diagnosis, abuse, physical or emotional neglect, or household dysfunction (e.g., substance abuse, incarcerated relative, mental illness),” Byrd said.

CES students affected by the tornado may qualify.

She estimated 44.9 percent of those who did not meet the benchmark are eligible to appeal based on the students’ spring universal reading screener results. 

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Echo Day
Author: Echo Day

Echo Day is an award-winning journalist, photographer and designer. She is currently The Leader's managing editor.