Dallas ISD reports drastic learning losses for its students due to COVID-19, remote learning

Dallas ISD reported drastic learning losses for students due to the COVID-19 pandemic and virtual learning for the first few weeks of school.

Administrators said it will likely take years to catch students up to where they need to be.

They have discussed options on how to undo some of the damage during this school year.

Testing data this fall showed that in math, 50% of students are behind where they were in December last year, before the pandemic.

And 30% are behind in reading.

“To see this level of decline, especially in math, is astonishing, frankly,” said Dallas ISD Trustee Dustin Marshall said.

Dallas ISD trustees are fearing that they could "lose a generation" if they don't act boldly and quickly to catch kids up.

Their concerns are about COVID-19 shuttered classrooms for six-and-a-half months. 

“My heart hurts for these kids so drastically impacted by COVID,” one trustee said.

Administrators asked board members to lower the district's previous goals for students, now seen as unreachable, as achievement gaps widen.

“Do have concerns about lowering goals, specifically when we just had a conversation about how far behind African American children are, and then we turn around and say, ‘Let's lower these goals,’” Dallas ISD Trustee Joyce Foreman said,

Foreman said she would rather have bold interventions than lower standards.

“Lowering the goal doesn't make it better, just makes us look better,” she explained.

Other trustees were cautiously willing to lower the district's goals, faced with such bleak data on student achievement.

“Can't have a goal with organization of this size not attainable, impacts to morale,” one trustee said.

Trustee Marshall urged staff to consider a longer school year and summer school options as a way to intervene, pointing to the district's $661 million rainy day fund.

“This is a flood. Come back with some major, bold proposals of how we're going to spend that money and get these kids back to where they need to be,” he said.

Staff said that for $80 million, the district could target 100 schools to create a 10 to 1 student-teacher-ratio to create extra time for interventions.

One challenge with catching kids up this summer, due to Dallas ISD's delated start date, is that the summer break is already delayed until June 18.