'Stop worrying about the tests': Tips for students still struggling with online learning

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- For some students and teachers, online learning continues to pose unique challenges.

Our partners at Community Impact Newspapers reported this week that Cy-Fair ISD officials voiced concerns after its district's diagnostic tests revealed it could take up to two years to get students back on track after losing school days following March 2020, and for those falling behind online.

Sky Guerra is a high school student learning online, along with her younger siblings.

She said system glitches, access to a laptop or high speed internet, plus the work load for online classes are some of the common challenges they continue to face.

"It's easier than when we first started, but it can still be tough," Guerra said. "We all share the same computers, except my two brothers. So for example, yesterday my brother's laptop shut down and we didn't have another laptop to give him so that he could go back on school, so he had to miss out that day."

Rachel Nash, who is a teacher and also a Houston ISD parent, said the online learning can also be emotionally taxing on students. She adds that she has seen how the pressure of the STAAR tests or practice tests weighs on students and teachers.

"The virtual learning has too many assignments," Nash said. "It's too much. Some kids are failing and those who are not failing are overwhelmed emotionally and socially. They are going into depression at 10 years old. It's because they're trying so hard to keep up, because they are used to being exceptional students."

Andy Dewey with Houston American Federation of Teachers (AFT) said teachers will catch their students up and it may take time, but that the STAAR test will not penalize Texas school districts or students this year.

"Stop worrying about the (STAAR) test, absolutely stop worrying about them," Dewey said. "The TEA already said they don't count for students. They have dropped the accountability rating for this year for school districts so they don't count for school districts. In HISD, student test scores will not be used on teacher appraisals, but yet the schools are still freaking out about the test."

Candis Houston with Aldine AFT said another challenge is that some educators are teaching both online and in-person classes. Houston said students do have a voice and it's important for students to reach out to their parents or teachers to get more one-on-one help that they need.

"You want your child's needs to be met and we want them to be met, but we need you to meet us half way, because understand that that teacher may be servicing 200 students," Houston said. "It's very important that students' voices are being heard and in order for their voices to be heard, number one they need to speak up for themselves, especially if you are a high school student. Secondly, inform your parent, so your parent can also be your advocate, because that's what parents are for as well. And then after that, they should be able to speak to the teacher or administrator, because nobody should be falling through the cracks."

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