By Laura Onyeneho

In an effort to address the education concerns impacting HISD students caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, The Houston Independent School District confirmed that the upcoming school year will be taught 100% in person.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) released the spring 2021 State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) results which revealed that the grades for students who participated in remote-learning declined significantly compared to those who learned in-person.

The TEA report says since the pandemic, the number of students failing to meet grade level went up from 2019 in mathematics and reading for grades 3-8, 4th and 7th grades writing, 5th and 8th grade science, 8th grade social studies, and high school end-of-course (EOC) exams in Algebra I, English I, English II, Biology, and U.S. History. Math saw the largest decline in proficiency across all grade levels, according to the report.

The STAAR assessments were not administered in 2020 during the height of the pandemic, so the year-to-year comparisons were available for 2019, the most recent year for which the TEA has statewide results. 

When the new school year starts, parents of students who thrived in the virtual learning space will have a couple of months to decide if they want to send their children back to school. After Texas Legislature failed to pass a bill to approve funding for remote learning, many school districts canceled virtual learning plans for the upcoming school year. School districts can still provide remote learning for students, but it wouldn’t be funded by state.

Houston school district leaders say in order to produce better student outcomes, they will add 15 additional days to the 2021-2022 school calendar. Additionally, TEA will be providing support and guidance for local education agencies during the summer to “bolster their efforts to accelerate learning by making available rigorous instructional materials, additional teacher support, help wherever appropriate to expand learning time, and targeted tutoring.”

Laura Onyeneho is the Defender Network Education Reporter and a Report For America Corps member. Email her at