Educators working to find way to combat pandemic's learning loss

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BySteve Campion KTRK logo
Tuesday, June 29, 2021
Educators work to find way to combat pandemic's learning loss
School districts across southeast Texas said they're working to figure out how to bring kids back up to speed. If you're a parent watching this, you know this pandemic hasn't been easy.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Southeast Texas educators are being forced to figure out how to bring students back up to speed after a challenging year.

The Spring 2021 STAAR test results, which were released by the Texas Education Agency on Monday, show students struggled in the pandemic.

The Houston Independent School District said it's adding 15 more days to the next school year to help students.

HISD is aware and concerned about the learning loss that has resulted statewide from educational challenges caused by the pandemic. The recent STAAR test results provide us an opportunity to address student academic needs and utilize resources to regain learning. HISD is adding 15 additional days of instruction and returning to 100% in-person instruction in the fall. We expect this will produce better student outcomes. Additionally, we are formulating plans that will mitigate students' lost time and improve educational performance.

Meanwhile, officials with Pearland ISD told Eyewitness News their work is already underway. Like in previous years, they access every student to make sure educators are meeting their needs.

"We began with summer school. We doubled the number of students. We doubled the budget. We provided intervention all summer," explained Chief Academic Officer Dr. Nyla Watson. "We'll be identifying students in need of assistance early in the school year. We'll be teaching the grade level content and spiraling back to things that kids are missing from lower grades."

WATCH: How can Texas school districts make up for the loss?

Teachers and experts agree the pandemic left behind many challenges, but are there ways in which districts can make up the difference?

Dr. Catherine Horn leads the Department of Education Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Houston. She said there are proven ways to get kids back on track such as in-person learning, small group tutoring and mentoring spaces.

"I do think there are multiple points of evidence that suggest that we have students who have experienced learning loss, in some cases ... profound learning loss," said Horn. "I think that we have a responsibility to act now and act fully. I worry that we will face a crisis unprecedented in our state and in this country with respect to kids able to come out of their educational experience, ready to be active and engaged citizens in our communities."

The TEA report said since the pandemic, the number of students failing to meet grade level went up from 2019 across all subject areas and grade levels - English I and English II were the only exceptions.

Math saw the largest decline in proficiency across all grade levels, according to the report.

Plus, the TEA said school districts with more virtual learners saw more students failing as opposed to those with more in-person learners.

READ MORE: Texas Education Agency releases Spring 2021 STAAR exam results

The TEA said school districts with more virtual learners saw more students failing as opposed to those with more in-person learners.

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