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Houston ISD returning to 100% in-person instruction for 2021-22 with 15 additional days of learning

The district says recent STAAR test results show there are concerns about the "learning loss" that occurred statewide during the pandemic.

HOUSTON — The Houston Independent School District confirmed Tuesday morning that its upcoming school year will be 100 percent in-person.

In a statement, Houston school district leaders said the decision is based on a recent report about how education suffered during the pandemic:

Several other school districts have also made the same call after Texas legislation that would have funded remote learning for public schools failed to pass.

RELATED: HISD adds 15 days to the school year

RELATED: STAAR test results show in-person learners did better

HISD statement

"HISD is aware and concerned about the learning loss that has resulted statewide from educational challenges caused by the pandemic. The recent STAAR test results provide us an opportunity to address student academic needs and utilize resources to regain learning. HISD is adding 15 additional days of instruction and returning to 100% in-person instruction in the fall. We expect this will produce better student outcomes. Additionally, we are formulating plans that will mitigate students’ lost time and improve educational performance."

Earlier this week, the Texas Education Agency said STAAR Test outcomes for in-person learners was appreciably higher than for those who were remote learning.

Houston parent Claire Bonilla has three children in HISD, and results were split between the two who took the STAAR.

"My senior did exceptionally well," Bonilla said. "She was on site, started virtual, but was on site later throughout the year. My junior was all virtual and did terrible.”

She said her son Isaac, who attends Sterling High School with hopes of being a pilot thought its aviation program, never really took off.

“I have to tell you, his teachers were trying to do what they could do with the resources they had," Bonilla said. "I just think they didn’t have the best resources and the time.”

HISD said that it's aware and concerned about the learning loss statewide from educational challenges caused by the pandemic.

That’s part of the reason the district plans to add 15 additional days of instruction and return in the fall to 100 percent in-person learning.

“I do think that it is the ideal setting," said kindergarten teacher Camila Fuller.

She said that’s especially true for the youngest students and added that last year at Love Elementary felt like it started over three or four times thanks to all of the challenges.

"It was very challenging," Fuller said.

But like many colleagues, she believes extra work deserves added pay.

"There could be some issues with that," Fuller said. "But I do think that it is in the best interest of the students and teachers, because we do have a lot of learning loss that we need to account for."

Bonilla hopes a more normal school year results in more consistent test scores.

"You know, it caught me off guard,” Bonilla said.

HISD said teachers should get extra-duty pay for added days.

We reached out to other districts as well, and here's what Spring ISD told us about STAAR and learning loss:

Spring ISD Superintendent Rodney E. Watson said the district’s STAAR results were in line with trends seen across the state due to the pandemic.

“However, we also saw gains in achievement across various levels and schools which supports the dedication and focus that teachers and campus leaders provided during the pandemic,” he said.

“We’re very focused now on next steps to help our students recover and accelerate their learning so that we can get our students back on grade level as quickly as possible,” Watson said. “We’ve invested in summer school and we’re planning for more interventions during the school year, including tutoring, counseling and ongoing support for our teachers to help them grow every student.”

“We know that recovering from the pandemic is going to require a lot of hard work and innovative strategies, but we’re confident that we’re going to be able to be able to make up ground and close the gaps.”

For more on STAAR results via TEA, click here.

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