Magnolia ISD had a lower percentage of students meet grade level in spring 2021 for State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness exams, data from the Texas Education Agency shows, than in spring 2019, which is consistent with how the state performed as a whole. TEA Commissioner Mike Morath attributed the decline to disruptions in learning from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Unfortunately, the impact that the broader conditions of the coronavirus have had on schools in Texas and what ... will likely be throughout the United States is significant,” Morath said in a press conference June 28.

In MISD, the percent of students receiving passing scores—or "approaching grade level" as categorized by the TEA—in spring 2021 compared to spring 2019 declined for all but four assessment areas. The average percentage point decline for MISD was 6 points, compared to 9.7 statewide, according to a data analysis by Community Impact Newspaper. The percent of students approaching grade level increased during that time in MISD for third- and sixth-grade reading as well as English II and U.S. History end-of-course exams, TEA data shows.

“Considering what school districts have faced since January of 2020, our students still performed well,” MISD Chief Academic Officer Brandon Garza said in a statement. “While we know some students may have fallen behind due to school closures during the pandemic, we have other students that are still performing at and above grade level.”

Although all districts statewide saw learning declines, districts which had more students learning in-person had less learning loss, according to a presentation by Morath. For example, the percentage of students meeting grade level for math declined 31% for districts with less than a quarter of students learning in-person, compared to a 9% decrease for districts with more than 75% learning in-person.

“What we know now with certainty is that the decision in Texas to prioritize in-person instruction was critical,” Morath said.

MISD was fully virtual until Sept. 8, and had 94.7% of students learning face-to-face between March 12 and May 5, according to previous Community Impact Newspaper reporting. Garza said the improvements the district did see from spring 2019 to spring 2021, such as in the English II and U.S. History EOC exams, were due to students being in-person.

“With students in our classrooms, we have been able to focus on rigorous learning and meeting students at their level of need,” Garza said.

Garza said the district will be revising curriculum moving forward to meet the needs of their students. The district will revise the writing process for elementary students and implement a systematic tutorial system for math, he said.