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3rd Grade Retention Law Information and Resources

Last Updated: 3/31/2023 5:36 PM


Group of students



Beginning with the 2022-2023 school year, a student in the third grade shall not be promoted to the next grade level unless the student is determined to be proficient in English language arts (ELA) based on the student achieving a performance level rating of “met expectations” or “exceeded expectations” on the ELA portion of the student's most recent Tennessee comprehensive assessment program (TCAP) test.

Based on the language of T.C.A. § 49-6-3115 (a), if a 3rd-grade student does not take the TCAP or generate a score on the ELA portion of the TCAP and does not qualify for an exemption, the student shall be treated as if the student is not proficient in ELA.


Four (4) Performance Levels:


Not Proficient:

► Exceeded Expectations (level 4)

► Approaching Expectations (level 2)

► Met Expectations (level 3)

► Below Expectations (level 1)


Johnson City Schools on Promotion and Retention

Johnson City Schools believes that promotion and retention should be reflected in more than one measure pulled from a state assessment. According to the Johnson City Board of Education Policy (Board Policy 4.603), these factors should be used to identify students for retention:

Ability to perform at the current grade level;

Results of local assessments, screening, or monitoring tools;

State assessments, as applicable;

Overall academic achievement of the student;

Likelihood of success with more difficult material if promoted to the next grade level;

Existence of special problems, such as risk factors and special needs;

Prior use of remedial programs, such as risk factors and special needs;

Prior use of remedial programs, transitional classes and other non-traditional approaches;

Attendance record; and

Social and emotional maturity.


Johnson City Board of Education Resolution Requesting General Assembly to Amend TCA 49-6-3115 to Allow School Districts to Make Retention Decisions For Third and Fourth-Grade Students


Communication from Johnson City Schools to 3rd-grade parents

Letter One for JCS Families

Letter Two for JCS Families


Resources from the Tennessee Department of Education

The state of Tennessee has had a student promotion and retention law in place since 2011. During the 2021 Special Session, the Tennessee legislature updated that law to ensure that all students have the support to read and perform on grade level no later than the 2022-23 school year. 

To support districts, schools, and families, the department has developed several resources, including: