EL PASO, Texas-- All across Texas, parents, students and teachers are gearing up for what will be the first full year of in person education post Covid-19. While many districts are taking different approaches, all districts are facing the same challenge, making up for lost time during the pandemic.
"We did see some decreases from our previous data, however it's nothing that we weren't anticipating and it's nothing that we are not prepared to address now. Ysleta Independent School District has always been a district that works close the achievement gap and make sure that our scores are top notch," YISD Chief Academic Officer Brenda Chacon-Robles said.
While test results for the STAAR were lower than in previous years across all subjects, mathematics was by far one of the greatest challenges for teachers and students. The test results showed nearly one million Texas students performed at a grade-level behind in their math skills.
Teachers usually instruct with hands on materials such as blocks, which was not always possible through virtual learning. Teachers also had no real way to keep up with their students the way they would in the classroom; typically a teacher is able to analyze their students progress by checking their work on their homework, but virtual learning got in the way of that approach.
"I didn't get the full learning experience. I would really only learn for that semester of that moment that we were learning and then as soon as we stopped and went to a different subject it was like whenever learned it," said Isabella De Santiago, a high school junior.
Students are not the only ones that struggled with math, as teachers also struggled to teach it. While kids were at home, technology glitches and distractions got in the way - increasing the challenges in teaching.
"Math is a subject that is meant to be hands on and engaging. Even though we quickly transformed our classrooms into a virtual setting the concrete, the hands on is definitely what our kids need - especially for grades 3rd through 8th," Chacon-Robles said.
YISD is looking to prepare students for the next school year and told ABC-7 it has implemented new programs to help them catch up. YISD is implementing a new program called 'Promoting Academic Student Success' - or PASS - to help get students back on track.
"We are going to build capacity and hire additional part-time certified tutors for each school to assist our teachers and assist across the schools to build capacity," Chacon Robles said.
YISD told ABC-7 that learning loss prevention is key, and that it starts at home. Right now, parents should be going over material from last year to make sure that their children stay on task and are ready for the first day of school.
YISD is not the only school district moving forward with learning aids for children who have fallen behind. Texas House Bill 4545 is establishing new requirements for accelerated learning for students who failed to pass the STAAR test. Students who did not pass will be assigned a classroom teacher who is a certified master in the subject. All students who failed to pass the STAAR test will also receive tutoring before or after school, including the summer. These students will have to be provided with no less than 30 tutoring hours during the summer or during the school year.