More than 2 million Texas elementary and middle-school students failed state assessments last year. In an attempt to catch them up after pandemic-related learning disruptions, the Texas Legislature passed a requirement that schools provide tutoring.
The state set aside billions of dollars of federal pandemic relief funds to implement the program. But school districts are now saying the requirement is impossible to meet.
Emily Donaldson, an education reporter for The Dallas Morning News’ Education Lab, explains to Texas Standard why the tutoring requirements have been so hard to meet and what the state and schools are doing to adapt.
Listen to the full interview in the audio player above or read the highlights below:
–The law requires any student who failed one of their State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, exam to have about 30 hours of tutoring. But Donaldson says for those who fail multiple exams, that could mean over 100 hours of tutoring in a school year.
– The law restricts tutors from taking students out of regular class time or extracurricular activities, so scheduling tutoring time has been challenging.
– Staffing shortages have also made it hard for school districts to comply with the law. Tutoring sessions are generally limited to three students at a time, so schools have limited flexibility to create larger groups based on staff availability. Donaldson says that even with the extra money flowing to schools for the tutoring program, finding staff is a challenge. That, plus the scheduling issues, has made the law a “logistic nightmare.”
– School districts are getting creative in efforts to comply, including extending tutoring sessions into the summer. And the Texas Education Agency, or TEA, has even approved some tutoring programs that use artificial intelligence, or AI, to instruct students.
– The TEA is not strictly enforcing the law this year because of all of the challenges, and lawmakers will hash out adjustments to the law in the interim session, leading up to the next legislative session in 2023.