The state’s release of third grade literacy scores

Published 11:14 am Friday, May 26, 2023

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To the Editor:
I was disappointed the Tennessee Department of Education was so slow in releasing the third-grade literacy scores. Parents are right to be angry and confused. Delays in releasing scores were blamed on local districts needing time to filter results further. The data provided by the state didn’t remove students who were considered ineligible for retention due to exclusions included in the law having a suspected reading disability, English learner status, or having been previously retained. Those decisions are made at the school level based on an individual student assessment. I don’t agree with English learners being excluded as they need to be retained until they can comprehend English.
Of the 73,433 Tennessee students who took the Spring TCAP, only 29,373 scored proficient with 44,060 falling short of the required score. Results show 60 percent of Tennessee’s third-graders are at risk for retention. The scores are raw scores and have not gone through the post-equating process. Once scores are subject to the post-equating process, there may be slight change between raw scores, now available and the final scores families receive in late summer. Students are considered proficient if they score 34 out of 52 possible points on the ELA Spring TCAP. The state average was 29.5. Students have only until June 5 to do a retake. Students will use a computer for the retake. Those students who don’t score “proficient” on either exam must repeat third grade unless certain criteria are met. Students can attend a state-sponsored summer camp or enroll in a high tutoring program.
Too much emphasis put on a one-time-per-year high stakes test. Too much emphasis put on striking fear and stress in our school children. They should give students more time to answer the questions on the retake to lower stress. Parents should encourage their children that didn’t pass the test that it doesn’t mean they aren’t smart. They just had a bad day just like everyone does. Many of the smartest people in America couldn’t pass the Bar exam to become a licensed lawyer even after being in the top ten percent of their high school class and the top of their college class and graduating from law school. You can be very smart and not a good test taker. One author said, “the man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them.” More essential than being able to read is to read the truth and being able to tell truth from lies.
Education and academics can’t solve all our problems. Schools should teach the Bible logic again. Isaac Watts book, “Logic or the Right Use of Reason” was taught for over 200 years in American schools. Watts rightly believed that if a person couldn’t reason correctly, then he couldn’t interpret the Bible accurately, nor distinguish truth from error. Mental clarity helps us to have moral clarity. Being able to recognize good and bad thinking is necessary for citizens in a free society. John Adams said, “Liberty cannot be maintained without general knowledge of the people.” Schools need to go back to the teaching of logic and critical thinking and the memorization of facts. Christianity is more than logical but it’s logical. Elijah used logic when he said, “If the Lord is God, follow Him, but if Baal is god, follow him.” Christianity is the only religion that prevents all evil pride because it’s the only one that requires no works since Jesus did everything on the cross to pay for sin, Jesus gets all the glory. Since pride is evil Christianity would be the logical religion God would use to have a relationship with sinful people. The Bible says test or question everything. Only one test question do you have to answer correctly to be a success forever. The most essential question is “Do you have have a saving relationship with Jesus?” The Bible says ask God for wisdom.
Parents deserve the greatest voice in education. God has given parents the responsibility to teach their children to know and love Jesus and also educate and instill values in their children. God commands Christian parents to rear their children “in the fear and admonition of the Lord,” and no government agency – absent clear abuse – ought to interfere with it. The media and Hollywood say we should affirm people and not offend people even if what they believe isn’t true. There’s more fake news and bad news than ever before. However, whatever the news, the purpose of the Lord Jesus will stand. There’s one kind of news that’s completely believable and always true and it’s the good news of Jesus. The Bible teaches that the only way to heaven is to have faith in the sacrifice of Jesus as your only way to heaven and belief in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. This will offend some people. “It’s better to offend people into heaven than to flatter people into Hell!”

D.D. Nave

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