Education

Tens of Thousands of Students in Texas Dropped Out of Remote Learning, Analysis Shows

By Stephen Sawchuk — September 03, 2020 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A stunning Dallas Morning News analysis of state data shows that more than 100,000 students in Texas never engaged in their remote learning assignments last spring, the newspaper reported this week, and about 20,000 of them dropped entirely out of contact.

The analysis puts a spotlight on what many educators have acknowledged remains a significant problem in the age of COVID-19. It’s a harbinger of what is almost certainly a national catastrophe: In April, just a few weeks into the pandemic, Education Week reported that teachers and administrators alike were facing an inability to contact many of their students. Some of them, those teachers and administrators said, literally seemed to drop off the face of the Earth. One major problem was that contact information for students and their parents was often out of date.

At the time, we reported about one study that found that only about half of a sample of high school students had a parent email or mobile phone number that worked. And Education Week survey data also showed that students in districts with more than three-quarters of students living in poverty were the most likely to have disconnected with school.

The causes are probably multifaceted—lack of stable housing, increased mobility due to the economic fallout of the pandemic, disengagement from teachers and peers, illness or trauma at home.

What should we call this phenomenon of widespread numbers of students failing to access school? The Dallas newspaper terms it no less than a potential “lost generation” of students, unless drastic steps are taken to find those students and making up for the learning loss they’ve suffered.

Fully Engaged?

In a clever use of state data, the Dallas newspaper analyzed the labels that the Texas Education Agency assigned each student, based on district reports of how responsive students were to assignments over two distinct time periods. There were nine codes. Students who turned assignments in in a subject were considered “fully engaged.” The analysis included 80 of the largest Dallas/Fort Worth districts and charter schools.

In general, wealthier districts tended to have higher levels of engagement, reflecting the Education Week data from April. Several of these well-resourced districts said almost all their students were fully engaged.

Each of the codes matched how students responded to assignments over two time periods: from the start of the COVID-19 break to April 30, and from May 1 to the end of the school year.

In all, the newspaper found that more than 100,000 children across the 80 districts failed to engage in assignments at all, or stopped doing them by May 1.

Some districts in Texas are responding to the findings. The newspaper reported that the Garland district has built extra weeks of instruction throughout the year with optional days of classes offering intervention, enrichment, and acceleration. (The idea sounds similar to the notion of extended learning time in special academies, a model Education Week profiled in our Learning Loss series of stories.)

But the paper’s overall conclusions are worth repeating. This is really bad news for student learning, and the implications will be felt nationwide unless all of our 14,000 districts design comprehensive plans to ensure student engagement as the pandemic continues.

A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP
Education Massachusetts National Guard to Help With Busing Students to School
250 guard personnel will be available to serve as drivers of school transport vans, as districts nationwide struggle to hire enough drivers.
1 min read
Massachusetts National Guard soldiers help with logistics in this Friday, April 17, 2020 file photo, at a food distribution site outside City Hall, in Chelsea, Mass. Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, activated the state's National Guard to help with busing students to school as districts across the country struggle to hire enough drivers.
Massachusetts National Guard soldiers help with logistics in this Friday, April 17, 2020 file photo, at a food distribution site outside City Hall, in Chelsea, Mass.
Michael Dwyer/AP
Education FDA: ‘Very, Very Hopeful’ COVID Shots Will Be Ready for Younger Kids This Year
Dr. Peter Marks said he is hopeful that COVID-19 vaccinations for 5- to 11-year-olds will be underway by year’s end. Maybe sooner.
4 min read
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate health, education, labor, and pensions hearing to examine an update from federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19 on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 11, 2021. On Friday, Sept. 10, 2021, Marks urged parents to be patient, saying the agency will rapidly evaluate vaccines for 5- to 11-year-olds as soon as it gets the needed data.
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate health, education, labor, and pensions hearing to examine an update from federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19 on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 11, 2021.
Jim Lo Scalzo/AP