Texas parents have a new option for dealing with what has been called the "COVID-19 slide"---the massive disruption in learning brought on by the pandemic over the past year-and-a-half. Senate Bill 1697, passed in this year's legislature and signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott in June, allows parents to decide if their child can repeat a grade or, if in high school, repeat a course.
Summer break typically results in what's called the "summer slide," which results in an average 2.5 months of learning loss, according to the Texas Education Agency (TEA). But the TEA estimates the "COVID-19 slide" could result in a learning loss of nearly six months per student. Schools have been trying to make up the loss with extra summer classes, but some parents may still not be ready to advance their child after more than a year of school closures, virtual learning or hybrid learning.
Rick Hess, education policy director at the American Enterprise Institute, believes SB 1697 is a great idea. "I think the least that parents ought to have the right to do is decide if their kid is ready to move forward," he tells KTRH.
"For the past year, the school districts basically told parents guess what...you're in charge of getting your kids educated," he continues. "We're going to give you some stuff remotely for weeks and months, and then when we get your kid back into school it's going to be a very unusual experience."
Making the problem worse is that after students missed months of in-person classes, most standardized tests were canceled. "A--a lot of kids are learning less than they normally do, and B--we don't really know how much less, or how kids are doing because of the lack of testing," says Hess.
"To me, it seems totally appropriate to say to families we suddenly threw this hot potato in your lap, and told you guys with no warning to do the best you could," Hess continues. "If you're telling us your kid needs more help, let's make sure we're doing everything we can to get your kid what they need."