Expanded tutoring required as part of recent Texas law

Teachers are working to get students caught up after a tough year. (File)
Teachers are working to get students caught up after a tough year. (File)(None)
Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 5:14 AM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Midway ISD is back in the classroom on Wednesday, and like other districts, teachers are working to get students caught up after a tough year.

The district is significantly expanding the tutoring it offers this year to make sure students are on grade level. While this will help, the tutoring is required by House Bill 4545.

The legislature passed the bill in June, and it requires students who were not successful on STAAR tests or end of course exams to receive accelerated instruction.

The accelerated instruction can happen in one of two ways – students can either be assigned a teacher who is a certified master, exemplary, or recognized teacher or students can receive extra tutoring.

Midway plans to offer the tutoring, which is 30 hours per subject a student wasn’t successful in. For example, if a student wasn’t successful in two subjects, they would need to have 60 hours of tutoring during the year.

Dr. Aaron Peña, assistant superintendent for curriculum & instruction for Midway ISD, said the district will use federal funds to purchase materials and expand tutoring staff.

“Our philosophy this year is to put the work in, to use the ESSER funds that are needed this year to really make a lot of gains in our students,” Dr. Peña said. “If we can get kids back from the COVID slide on grade level in one year, then that’s the goal.”

Dr. Peña said HB 4545 means there are a lot of moving pieces logistically for the district. Some students may require tutoring in several subjects, and students moving from eighth grade to ninth grade present the biggest challenge.

“They had so many tests that they took. They did take, like normal, reading and math, and they also had science and social studies as well,” Dr. Peña said. “It didn’t happen often, but occasionally a student would be unsuccessful in all four.”

Despite working through the logistics, the district said the tutoring is important to getting students on grade level after a challenging academic year.

“I think this is going to have a really positive impact,” Dr. Peña said. “We’re recruiting the best teachers we can find. We’re providing small groups, for these students. We’re using high quality instructional materials, we’re training our tutors.”

Dr. Peña said the tutoring will happen outside of school, or during time built into the school day specifically for tutoring, so it will not take away from other learning.

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