DALLAS — Note: The video above is about back-to-school shopping.
Parents in Texas now have more say in whether their child moves on to the next grade level or repeats their grade after possible learning loss from the COVID pandemic.
SB 1697 was approved in the Texas Legislature to give parents more choices after the learning disruptions caused by the pandemic. Learning loss was shown in the STAAR test results released last month.
Parents who feel their children struggled academically can hold them back to repeat a course or repeat the grade they were in the previous year, including students who need to be placed in or repeat pre-K and kindergarten.
This is an important option for parents who didn't enroll their child in pre-K or kindergarten for the 2020-2021 school year. There were nearly 25,000 children who were eligible for kindergarten but did not enroll last year, the Texas Education Agency said in a statement.
It’s also an option for parents who feel their child’s learning was significantly disrupted. Many students were in a hybrid or online learning structure.
Parents can log into TexasAssessment.gov to understand how well each of their children learned last year’s material, and how to support the academic growth of their children moving forward.
“If parents decide that it is best for their child to repeat a grade or course, they must inform their school in writing before the start of the upcoming school year,” the TEA said. “Because schools are making plans now, parents interested in this option should contact their school as soon as possible.”
For students in grade 4 and above this option exists only for the 2021-22 school year, but it's a permanent option for pre-K through 3rd grade.
A parent or guardian can also enroll in pre-K or kindergarten if the student would have been eligible during the previous school year.
Statewide, enrollment of early education and pre-K students was lower with a 22% drop for each of those grade levels in October 2020 compared to October 2019, the TEA said. Enrollment in these grades is optional.
For grades 1-8 the child can repeat the grade they were in the previous year.
For high school courses, parents can choose to have their child repeat any course the student was in during the previous year.
If a district disagrees with the parent's choice to have the child repeat a grade or course, the school must convene a retention committee and meet with the parent. The committee shall be composed of the principal, the parent/guardian, the teacher who taught the grade or course which the parent wants the student to be retained or repeated and could include additional teachers.