Houston-area school districts reviewing guidance after concerns of online students failing

ANGLETON, Texas (KTRK) -- School districts in Texas have growing concerns that students are falling behind.

La Porte ISD is one of many Houston-area school districts showing concerns after reporting its online students are failing. At a meeting, the district revealed that 40% of middle and high schoolers and 24% of elementary students are not passing.

"We're overwhelmed," said La Porte Jr. High teacher Michelle Jackson.

A new rule from the state is giving districts the power to force kids back to campus in 2021 if they're failing or simply missing too many classes.

Angleton ISD is one of the districts that have chosen to require its students to return for in-person learning. The district shared on its Facebook page that an assessment on its remote learning program showed that some online students have not performed well academically and "lack the time and resources to engage with teachers in order to be successful."

The school district said it is particularly concerned about the online students who are failing and not attending their classes.



"Therefore, at the end of the first semester, any AISD student in the Online Learning program who fails a class for the first semester and chooses to remain enrolled in AISD will be required to return to On-Campus Learning," Angleton ISD wrote on its page.

Principals will be contacting parents of those online students who are currently failing or who are at risk of failing. Students will be required to attend school on campus unless he or she provides a medical exemption from a health provider.

According to the school district, parents of students who are failing and choose to not have their child return for on-campus learning will need to withdraw his or her child from school.

On-campus learning begins on Jan. 5, 2021.

Eyewitness News spoke with Superintendent Phil Edwards about the decision. He said their number one priority is student safety but there's a responsibility to educate students.

"We have seen kids who have been online come back to school because they've been working with the schools. We've seen those kids' grades improve dramatically from being in our buildings, being with a teacher face to face in a room where we can provide those structures for kids on a daily basis," said Edwards. "We want kids to be prepared for their future. That means when a kid graduates, they're prepared. That also means when a kid leaves third grade to go to fourth grade, they're prepared. That they're not behind."

But Angleton ISD is not the only district concerned. Pearland ISD and Fort Bend ISD told ABC13 they're reviewing the new guidance.

The state's largest district, Houston ISD, released the following statement when asked about whether it'll adopt the new rule.

Houston ISD is aware of new guidance from the Texas Education Agency regarding students who are struggling with academics and/or attendance and is in the process of evaluating it. The health, safety, and well-being of students and staff remain at the forefront of all decision-making.

SEE ALSO:

Tips on how to effectively communicate with your child's teacher

Channelview woman shares virtual learning tips

Advice from Houston educators for parents to help students with online instruction

Fort Bend ISD dad says kids' grades are falling due to virtual learning

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