Fort Bend ISD responds to guidance allowing low-performing students to learn in person

Fort Bend ISD Superintendent Charles Dupre said that as of Nov. 9, the district has not had time to explore a new option authorized by the Texas Education Agency that would allow districts to require low-performing virtual leaners to return to school in person.

The TEA guidance released Nov. 5 gives districts the ability to discontinue remote learning for students with a class average below 70 or with three or more unexcused absences in a grading period.

"We are looking at what is involved in that, but it's not something that we have even entertained, and I'm not sure it's something that we will entertain in Fort Bend ISD, honestly," Dupre said during the Nov. 9 board of trustees meeting. "... What it would mean, in the end, is demanding that a kid return face-to-face kind of in defiance of their parents' wishes for their well-being."

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

Under the new guidance, districts that mandate that low-performing students attend school in person would be required to apply criteria for discontinuing online learning consistently for all students in a grade level. The TEA guidance also lays out an appeal process for medical exemptions or for discussions of how the student can be successful from home.

Fort Bend ISD teachers and campus administrators are concerned about student performance, Dupre said during the Nov. 9 board meeting; teachers, he said, have reported that many online students are not attending synchronous learning opportunities and are not completing their assignments.

"At the end of [Term 1], failure rates were somewhat high," Dupre said. "We are very concerned."

At the December board meeting, the district will present data related to student performance and will discuss potential solutions, Dupre said.

The updated TEA guidance related to suspending virtual learning options for low-performing students begins on Page 19 of the TEA's School Year 2020-21 Attendance and Enrollment FAQ.