Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Getting the kids caught up at school

Gonna be a big job, and hopefully we can do it in earnest beginning in August.

With students finally settling into a pandemic-altered routine and widespread vaccine access on the horizon, Texas education leaders are turning to their next great challenge: catching up potentially millions of children falling behind in school.

Faced with the possibility of devastating student learning loss, educators across the state are in the early stages of planning for the 2021-22 school year and beyond, starting to devise significant — and likely disruptive — changes to their calendars, curricula and staffing.

Several of Texas’ largest districts already have restructured their upcoming school year, adding multiple weeks of instruction or moving up their start dates to stem the so-called “summer slide.”

The adjustments will impact many of the state’s more than 5 million students, whose academic, behavioral and emotional development have been stunted by the pandemic.

The effort also will test the state’s dedication to equity, the oft-cited-but-frequently-unfulfilled principle that children with the greatest needs should receive the most resources and support. While conclusive data on the pandemic’s impact remains elusive, educators widely agree that Black and Latino children, as well as students from lower-income families and those with disabilities, are more likely to fall behind than their peers.

“We need to use this opportunity to really step back and think about what students need, and then build a system and schedule and structure that helps them get that,” said Bridget Worley, executive director of the education nonprofit Texas Impact Network. “If we start back where we left off, we’re doing them a disservice.”

[…]

In Dallas ISD, the state’s second-largest district, school board members voted Thursday to give staff and families at each school the option to add 10 weeks of in-person instruction spread across 2021-22 and 2022-23. District administrators are gathering feedback to determine which campuses want to adopt the revised calendar. Attendance will not be mandatory for students and staff at schools making the change.

The idea, which could cost up to $90 million to implement, marks the most ambitious proposal to date among Texas’ largest school districts.

Derek Little, Dallas’ deputy chief of academics, said administrators still are crafting plans for the 10 weeks of support, but they envision smaller classes in a lower-stress environment for children.

“We knew we had to do something really bold to help our students recover from their learning loss and pandemic challenges,” Little said. “The research here is really compelling, that when students have more time in a high-quality learning environment, that extra time makes a difference.”

The Dallas plan mirrors an initiative launched this school year in neighboring Garland ISD, home to about 54,100 students. The district added 17 days of optional instruction into its 2020-21 calendar — eight weekdays spread throughout the normal school year, plus nine weekdays tacked on in June — and plans to offer 21 more optional class days in 2021-22.

[…]

In a statement this week, Houston ISD officials said they are “in the initial stages of planning our summer program and strategic planning for the 2021-22 school year.”

“Normally, this process typically occurs during the first few months of a calendar year,” the administrators said. “Like other districts, HISD is prioritizing students who are struggling academically and socially/emotionally, beginning with making district-wide credit recovery available to our 11th and 12th graders in February 2021.”

Clearly, everyone wants students back in school, in a much lower-risk environment. When that happens, a lot of students are going to need a lot of remedial work, because distance learning has its problems, and many students had technology and Internet issues on top of that. There are lots of options for this kind of remedial work, but they all boil down to more time in the classroom and more instruction. Both of those things, along with tutors and materials and who knows what else, will cost money. Ideally, there will be federal funding to pay for this, but the Legislature will have a role as well, even if it’s just to appropriate the federal money. What the actual on-the-ground plans are will be done locally. Whoever is in charge of HISD when this all comes around will have their hands full.

Related Posts:

4 Comments

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    “While conclusive data on the pandemic’s impact remains elusive, educators widely agree that Black and Latino children, as well as students from lower-income families and those with disabilities, are more likely to fall behind than their peers”

    .Seems pretty racist to automatically assume that blacks and Hispanic kids are not as smart and qualified as the white and Asian kids. Read that sentence. “Students from lower income families” are already listed as a subset of children that aren’t as capable as their middle and upper income peers, and that’s regardless of race, but it was important to note that black and Hispanic kids of any income level are not as proficient as their white and Asian peers.

    Maybe this explains why people like Manny had to rely on affirmative action and social promotion to get to college and then on to law school.

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    Marginally related, but Biden’s next great idea is to ban credit bureaus, because judging people on their willingness and ability to pay their bills is racist, or something.

    https://finance.yahoo.com/news/biden-wants-shut-down-credit-195528426.html

  3. Jason Hochman says:

    Bill, you have missed the point, what is racist is all of the advocates for closing everything, shutting schools, and everything else. The minorities have higher rates of Covid because they are out working. While the elites who want lockdowns are working from home, noshing on exotic foods and guzzling craft beer, the minorities are out delivering to them, cooking for them, working in the grocery store, in meat packing plants, on farms. The elite can sit at home in a cocoon of safety, and buy the best food, as well as excellent computers for their kids, and, if necessary, private tutors. Meanwhile, they cry crocodile tears for the oppressed.