HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A progress report from school districts across the Houston area and state-wide state are seeing an increase in students who are failing a class.
Houston ISD reported 42% of its students received one or more "Fs" in the first six weeks of school when the district was learning completely online. Compared to 26% of students who received one or more "Fs during the first nine weeks of in-person learning last year.
Katy Goodman is an HISD parent and former educator. She said both of her children are learning virtually this year. When she learned about the staggering number of students who were failing at least one class, she said she believes it reflects that state, federal, and local authorities are not providing the resources students and school staff needs to succeed, during the pandemic.
"I think in some ways it reflects how students are doing, but it doesn't actually answer the question of what students need," Goodman said. "Issues like health, safety, being fed, not worrying about if you're going to get kicked out of your house, like how can you be worried about succeeding in school when those priorities are not being addressed first."
Houston ISD is not alone. Seven other local school districts reported an increased number of students failing at least one class compared to last year.
ABC13 received the following statement from Fort Bend ISD on Wednesday, explaining its reported numbers.
The following data is representative of all FBISD students engaged in the online learning model, except students who receive special education services and were ARDed for face-to-face instruction. An increase in failing grades is a problem throughout the state and nation. The District is implementing specific supports for students, including grade repair opportunities and intervention for students. Campuses began implementing grade repair practices to provide students with learning to supplement Term 1 instruction and measure student mastery. The District is expanding credit recovery opportunities for students. Intervention practices are underway and the district is working with teachers and parents to communicate additional synchronous opportunities for students and engagement strategies and expectations. The district is not currently changing policy, but is working to refine expectations and procedures to support students, teachers, and parents.
o Total Number of Student with an "F" Term 1 in 2019-20: 10,185 (out of approx. 77,657 students)
o Total Number of Students with an "F" Term 1 in 2020-21: 16,248 (out of approx. 76,551 students)
Dr. Anson Koshy, a developmental and behavioral pediatrician with UT Physicians and UTHealth said there are multiple factors that play a role in determining what is causing students to continue to fall behind, and more analysis needs to be done to determine which students are struggling and how districts can effectively focus on those students.
"It sounds like there are some students who are struggling in-person as well and I think that there's some information there that teachers are stretched thin," Dr. Koshy said. "A teacher who has students who are in-person and also remote and they are teaching them at the same time. It's clear that a lot of teachers have to spend more time engaging students who are remote learning."
HISD also releasing this statement to ABC13, discussing how the district plans to help students who are falling behind.
The most notable difference between last year and this year is the virtual education component implemented due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In-person instruction is the preferred method as it typically produces a better educational outcome.
HISD resumed in-person instruction on Oct. 19, 2020. It is up to parents to decide if their children should return for face-to-face instruction or continue learning virtually at home. The district is prepared to accommodate all virtual instruction students wishing to return to campuses as long as CDC, local and state health authorities, and HISD's Communicable Disease Plan guidelines are followed. To digitally support virtual students, HISD has provided 111,000 devices and 38,700 hotspots for those who did not have the proper equipment for remote instruction. All students who have requested a device have been provided one. Campus leaders and teachers are monitoring student progress, including failures, especially among students who continue to learn virtually. They are also reaching out to families to address individual issues. Teachers are providing support during small group instruction, meeting with students individually during their office hours, and holding parent meetings to discuss options.
Additionally, to support students who are facing academic challenges, interventions are in place during the school day. Academic enrichment days were offered prior to the start of the school year and continue to be offered during each vacation period such as Thanksgiving, Winter Break and Spring Break. Also, high school students can attend virtual online classes for credit recovery.