Houston ISD says 42% of students failed at least one class during first grading period

Houston ISD says 42% of students failed one or more classes during the first few weeks of virtual learning.

HISD's first grading period included six weeks of 100% virtual learning, due to the COVID-19 pandemic

The district released the information Tuesday as schools prepare to wrap up their second grading period.

Michelle Williams, a teacher at Kashmere High School says 42% of kids failing may sound alarming, but she doesn’t believe the number is too far off from years past.

"A lot of our kids are below grade level anyway, so when the pandemic hit a lot of those structures and supports were taken away. I'm not surprised that that is happening. And I can almost guarantee you that a lot of them are coming from kids at schools they struggle anyway. So when you dig down into the numbers, disaggregate it, and break it up by school, it wouldn't be alarming. I can almost guarantee that," said Williams. 

Williams also serves in leadership at a local teacher's union.

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Williams soundly believes the kids most disproportionately affected by the change to virtual learning are the ones who come from struggling families.

She proposes having more flexibility in when kids can learn.

"Especially at our high school, I have cases where students are working and a lot of kids are helping out at home because a lot of our kids, their parents may have worked at restaurants and are not bringing in the same type of income that they were. And I think that's where our school district needs to get creative and help kids be successful meaning night school. We need to create creative solutions for these students that fit their needs, because that's the only way that they're going to be successful," Williams said.

HISD returned to in-person instruction on October 19.

Currently, the district says 59% of students have chosen to remain learning virtually, and 41% have chosen to return to in-person learning.

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Houston ISD released this statement following our report:

"During the 2020-2021 school year, 42-percent of students received one or more Fs in the first grading period of the year which was 6 weeks in length and was 100-percent virtual.

During the 2019-2020 school year, 26-percent of students received one or more Fs in the first grading period of the year which was 9 weeks in length and 100-percent in-person instruction.

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.

HISD resumed in-person instruction Oct. 19, 2020. 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.

To digitally support virtual students, HISD has provided 111,000 devices and 38,700 hotspots for those who did not have the proper equipment for remote instruction. All students who have requested a device have been provided one.

Campus leaders and teachers are monitoring student progress, including failures, especially among students who continue to learn virtually. They are also reaching out to families to address individual issues. Teachers are providing support during small group instruction, meeting with students individually during their office hours, and holding parent meetings to discuss options.

Additionally, to support students who are facing academic challenges, interventions are in place during the school day. Academic enrichment days were offered prior to the start of the school year and continue to be offered during each vacation period such as Thanksgiving, Winter Break and Spring Break. Also, high school students can attend virtual online classes for credit recovery."