In Term 2 of the 2020-21 school year, 2% of elementary school students in PISD were failing as compared to 4% in Term 2 of the 2019-20 school year, according to district data. The district saw 11% of students in grades 5-12 fail the first semester of the 2020-21 school year as compared to 8% in the first semester of the 2019-20 school year.
Success at the elementary school level could be attributed to parents acting as learning coaches for remote students and helping to reinforce what teachers taught in class, Watson said.
At the end of the first nine weeks, student failure rates were high for the district, Watson said. However, knowing that allowed teachers to change their teaching styles to reach remote and in-classroom students.
“They moved mountains to get kids there,” Watson said.
There will be STAAR testing this year, which will show how large the learning gap is since the start of the coronavirus, Superintendent Dr. John Kelly said.
“You can’t stop school in March and not have any real, credible school until August and expect there is no loss in instruction,” Kelly said.
However, the first semester of the 2020-21 school year has shown the district is able to advance kids academically even amid the pandemic, Kelly said.
“On a state level, we’re going to do well. It may not be the way we want it to be, as deep as we want it to be, but we’re going to do fine,” Watson said. “Our STAAR test is our most reliable form of data for the year.”
Some of the lessons teachers gave this year could influence how the district teaches science and social studies for grades 5-12 in the future, Watson said. When the district was forced to go partially remote, teachers used virtual labs and primary sources that could help teach the subjects in a blended model in the future, she said.
“We didn’t spend all of this money and time not to figure out how to do it better,” Watson said.