MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Tennesseans with third graders who didn’t make the grade on their TCAP test can now appeal the results.

The TCAP appeal portal opened Tuesday and will remain open through June 14.

More than half of third graders in the state failed to pass their TCAP the first time. Parents of third graders who failed the TCAP are beginning the process of requesting a retention appeal. 

“As a member of the T.E.A. (Tennessee Education Association), we saw the writing on the wall when it came to this third-grade retention bill and have spent the last two years fighting it,” said Kathryn Vaughn, president of the Tipton County Education Association and an educator for the past 17 years.

Tipton County school have been hit especially hard because of a tornado that plowed through recently, upending life for some students.     

“Unfortunately for our students in Tipton County, they’ve worked through a pandemic and now a natural disaster, and now this testing debacle. It’s wreaked havoc on our third graders and their families,” Vaughn said.

For some parents, the third-grade retention law has caused anxiety for students and confusion for parents and educators.

“It’s made people have to assign their kids to summer school, change around summer vacation and our students are dealing with a lot of mental health issues as consequences of this law,” Vaughn said.

But state leaders seem to think the retention law is working. “I’m comfortable with where it is,” Gov. Bill Lee has said.

“There could be some fine tuning, but as far as the general direction of the law, I’m satisfied with it,” said Randy McNally, speaker of the state Senate.         

But some educators are far from satisfied with the law.

Toliya Smith, a certified master teacher in Memphis, says more needs to be done to prepare students for the test.

“They need to make sure that they have practice tests much further into like they used to do. Shelby County Schools where I was teaching had practice tests weeks ahead of time for children to take the test,” Smith said.

Back in Tipton County, as many parents begin their retention appeal process, some educators say the law itself needs to be repealed by state lawmakers.

“What it’s done to students and their families is nearly criminal. People do not like this law and as legislators know they work for the people and if the people say they don’t want this then it’s up to legislators to do something,” Vaughn said.

The Tennessee Department of Education may grant an appeal for promotion if the student received a score at or above the 40th percentile on their spring universal reading screener, or if 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 or the retake.

When the website goes live, you can apply for an appeal here.