MARY MEAUX — Accelerated Instruction may not be the best answer for learning loss

Published 12:04 am Thursday, September 30, 2021

The delivery of education as we know it has changed much over the past year and a half of the pandemic.

From schools closing their doors for thorough cleaning to a hybrid of virtual and in-person education to strictly in-person, the changes have been many.

The flip-flop in the delivery of education led to some students falling behind. Some may have found it difficult to follow along from home, some may have had economic obstacles in their way — the list goes on.

Learning loss is real.

Making up for learning loss due to the pandemic is now a state statute for school districts across the state.

It comes in the form of House Bill 4545. The new law, which was passed during the 87th regular legislative session, went into effect in June and centers around Accelerated Instruction.

But even the top leaders in school districts still have questions as they work to implement the changes.

Port Arthur Independent School District Superintendent Mark Porterie outlined the new statute during a recent school board meeting.

“House Bill 4545 establishes new requirements for supplemental accelerated instruction for students who do not pass the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, test,” Porterie said.

Porterie said, in essence, students in grades 3-8 that did not pass the STAAR must go through Accelerated Instruction.

And this is for every test they did not master or did to meet minimal qualifications on if they did not take the test at all.

The requirement is for 30 hours of tutoring in each subject the student failed or did not take.

According to information from the district, the tutoring must cover the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills targeting the learning gap, supplement normal instruction, occur at least once per week until; 30 hours is reached, be provided in a group no larger than 3:1, be provided by the same person as much as possible and not occur as a pull out from grade-level content, grade-level enrichment, recess or PE.

I understand the need for individualized acceleration to get students back on track. My concern, and maybe I do not understand the issue fully, is some students may become burned out.

They have their regular classes but will need this before school, after school or in Saturday tutoring.

This means the required 30 hours plus another 30 for each test not passed.

And that can add up.

I’m not saying these students should not be responsible for catching up on lost instruction or that I have a magic solution for the many students across the state dealing with this.

I just think there should be another solution.

 

Mary Meaux is a news reporter at The Port Arthur News. She can be reached at mary.meaux@panews.com