Resolution on Student Retention Policy Passes


Weakley Co. Board of Education


During the Sept. 8 meeting of the Weakley County Board of Education at Dresden Middle School, board members approved a resolution requesting that the Tennessee General Assembly amend state law to allow school districts to make their own decisions regarding the retention of third and fourth grade students.

Director of Schools Randy Frazier argued that retention decisions involving students should be research-based, informed by multiple data sources, and include parent and teacher input. The School Board agreed and passed a resolution calling for the Tennessee General Assembly to revise a state-mandated policy regarding retaining third and fourth grade students.

The retention issue is centered on Common Core state standards for English Language Arts and literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and technical subjects (“the standards”), representing the next generation of K–12 standards designed to prepare all students for success in college, career, and life by the time they graduate from high school.

A portion of the current State Board of Education’s school board policy reads as follows:

“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's achieving a performance level rating of ‘on track’ or ‘mastered’ on the ELA portion of the student's most recent Tennessee comprehensive assessment program (TCAP) test.”

The Tennessee State Board of Education’s Promotion and Retention Policy lists a minimum of factors to be considered when identifying students for retention, including:

  • The student’s ability to perform at the expectations of the current grade-level standards;
  • The results of local assessments, screening, or monitoring tools;
  • State assessments, as applicable;
  • The overall academic achievement of the student;
  • The student’s likelihood of success with more difficult materials if promoted to the next grade;
  • The student’s attendance record; and
  • The student’s social and emotional maturity.

The Tennessee State Board of Education policy notes that, “Retention shall be considered only when it’s in the best interest of the student.”

However, the resolution approved by the Weakley County School Board states that “retention may have adverse effects on students, especially at-risk students.”

Additionally, the resolution states, “Other states have adopted legislation regarding retention of third-grade students have included a provision allowing school districts to promote students not proficient in ELA as measured by standardized tests based on school district data demonstrating an understanding of ELA via alternative knowledge assessments.”

Another point raised in the resolution is that “Tennessee’s failure to afford school districts the discretion to make retention decisions based on all school district information on each student adversely and disproportionally affects students who, for many reasons, might not perform well on standardized tests, but yet demonstrate an understanding of ELA via alternative knowledge assessments.”

The resolution finally states, “The Weakley County Board of Education urges the General Assembly to amend Tennessee Code Annotated 49-6-3115 to allow school districts to make retention decisions for all students based upon the totality of data, discussion among stakeholders, and the expertise of education professionals regarding the best interests of each student.”

Service and Therapy Animals

A newly introduced school board policy dealing with the use of service and therapy animals received unanimous board support.

The policy defines a service animal as any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability including physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or any other disability.

Exceptions include an animal that is out of control or not housebroken.

Additionally, parents must submit a request for the use of a service animal no later than three weeks prior to the proposed use of the service animal.

Emergency Relief Grant Funding

The board also approved an application for an elementary and secondary school emergency relief grant totaling $6,443,632.17.

The grant funding will be utilized to combat widespread loss of learning in the Weakley County School District, including incentivizing 116 teachers with a stipend for tutoring after school three hours each week at $40 per hour for one year (approximately 25 weeks). A lead tutor will receive a stipend of $500 for handling the logistics and paperwork.

In order to socially distance more effectively, the grant will cover the cost of purchasing new classroom students’ desks, science lab stools, teacher’s desks and chairs, office furniture, cafeteria equipment, playground items and numerous other equipment.

A district-wide Behavioral Intervention Classroom for grades K-5 will be established to address the negative effects of COVID school closure and quarantining. This will help students become acclimated to the structured school environment. It will be staffed by one dual certified teacher for a period of two years. The small setting of the Behavioral Intervention Classroom will allow students to develop the necessary skills to be successful in the regular classroom.

A system-wide instructional technology coach has been hired for two years to train teachers and staff throughout the schoolyear.

Instructional Materials and Textbooks

The Weakley County School Board approved the second reading of a policy that requires the school system to research and respond to complaints concerning the content of library materials made available to students, based on their age and level of maturity. After receiving a recommendation from those involved in the evaluation process, the board will make the final determination whether or not to remove the material from the library’s collection. An existing policy regulating the choice of instructional materials and textbooks used in the classroom was revised in a similar manner.

Grading System Changes

As the result of a state law that began July 1, Weakley County Schools have adopted a new 10-point grading scale for students in grades 1-12. The bill, approved by the Tennessee General Assembly, requires high schools across the state move to the 10-point grading scale.

On the 10-point grading scale, students will receive an “A” for a score of 90-100; a “B” is 80-89; a “C” is 70-79; “D” is 60-69; and a grade that falls below 60 is an “F.”

Because letter grades determine grade point average, students who use the 10-point scale have an advantage in college admissions.

Honor Roll Qualifications

The board approved the second reading of a new honor roll policy that revises the grading score requirements for middle school and high school students. Under the revised policy, honor roll students must have a 90 (all A’s) or higher in each subject. In order to be listed on the merit roll, students must have an 80 (all A’s and B’s) or higher in each subject.

Separation Practices

Another policy approved on second reading involves the separation procedures for non-tenured teachers.

The policy revision reads as follows: “If the reason for non-renewal is due only to the loss of funding for the position, then the notice shall include a statement listing it as the cause for non-renewal.”

Budget Amendments

The board approved a budget amendment to the General Purpose School Fund that allocates $15,789 to hire a speech pathologist.

Additionally, a Federal Projects School Fund budget amendment allocating $164,000 for school buses received unanimous approval.


The next School Board meeting is Thursday, October 6, beginning at 5:00 p.m. at Martin Primary School.