Houston ISD acknowledges role of COVID-19 virtual instruction in student performance drop

Houston ISD reported that 42% of its students failed at least one class in the first six-week grading period for 2020-21, which was held exclusively online. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Houston ISD reported that 42% of its students failed at least one class in the first six-week grading period for 2020-21, which was held exclusively online. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Houston ISD reported that 42% of its students failed at least one class in the first six-week grading period for 2020-21, which was held exclusively online. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

A day after releasing a data point showing that 42% of Houston ISD students were failing at least one class after the first grading period, officials explained that the notable difference this year was the mandatory virtual learning format that began the school year.

In comparison, in 2019-20, 26% of students were failing at least one class after the first grading period, according to HISD.


The 2020-21 grading period also reflected six weeks of virtual instruction as compared to nine weeks of in-person instruction for the first grading period in 2019-20, the district noted.

"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," the district noted in a Dec. 2 statement. "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."

The district added that campus officials are monitoring student performance and conducting family outreach, while teachers are being asked to provide support, meet one-on-one with students and hold parent meetings.