TEA finds students started school almost six months behind

Updated: Jan. 20, 2021 at 5:37 PM CST
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (TNN) - Students across Texoma spent the fall trying to make up for time lost by school closures at the start of the pandemic.

New data is giving a clearer look at exactly how much that time impacted them.

Through a beginning of the year assessment (BOY), the Texas education Agency found that students lost, on average, 3.2 months of learning time. That’s in addition to the 2.5 months students usually lose because of summer vacation.

While superintendents have been working months to fill the gaps that loss has caused, they say they’re finding it harder to do at the elementary level.

<”e take for granted that we know how to make a sentence,” Dr. Peter Griffiths, the associate superintendent for Wichita Falls ISD, “but at the lower grade levels you’re trying to build them to understand that.”

Dr. Griffiths said that understanding gets hindered when young kids can’t have a teacher helping in-person.

“With the reading and comprehension, that becomes difficult,” he said.

Districts across Region 9 are now taking what they’ve seen in their schools, on top of the Texas Education Agency’s data, to try and close those learning gaps.

“We anticipate, and we anticipated, that that would happen,” Dr. Griffiths said, “so we’re looking at programs in the summertime that help with the gap.”

“Really did help them solidify and say ‘the things we are doing to try and close those gaps are very necessary,’” Wes Pierce, the executive director for Region 9, said.

Officials agree the effects of the “COVID slide” are going to be felt for a while.

“If we’re having to go back and make up lost time from last semester, inherently we’re not going to have the ability to push as far this year,” Pierce said.

“We’re going to see the gap,” Dr. Griffiths added, “I think this is going to be a trend that we’re going to see for years to come, sadly, but we are already looking at ways to address those gaps.”

They also agree that if students are going to improve there are factors outside studying that need attention.

“There are so many implications that go into that are more than a test score that we have to deal with,” Pierce said.

“Whenever an adult thinks back to school, they think about those activities and things they did at school, not about sitting down [and] taking a test,” Dr. Griffiths said.

In Wichita Falls ISD, Dr. Griffiths said the district is already looking at what Summer 2021 will look like, which includes new requirements for who attends summer school and what is taught.

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