learning loss

A Generation of Students May Not Dig Out of Pandemic Learning Losses Easily

TEA commissioner says schools need to set strong goals but stay grounded in love

NBCUniversal, Inc.

A teacher's work is much like that of a farmer, taking little minds and finding ways to grow them to be the best they can be. 

This year though more than ever, students and teachers said their gardens aren't doing well. Classrooms are cracking under the pressure to perform.

"It's definitely super stressful," said one student.

The stress has grown from classroom to boardroom. Student performance data detailing drops and flops in performance all year.

"Kids can not be looked at as data points, it has to be beyond those data points of what those numbers are telling us," said Doug Williams, superintendent, Sunnyvale ISD. "We're not going to be able to make that ground up overnight."

Students told us that stress isn't just about wanting a break. They're also worried about their future.

"It's crazy to think, will I be behind in college?" asked one senior.

So do you help? How do you tackle all the performance drops, knowing kids are at their breaking point?

"When we set goals we want to set goals that are strong but attainable," said Mike Morath, commissioner of the Texas Education Agency. He said he's seen the stress in his own home with his children. 

Morath said schools do have to set strong goals but stay grounded in love for our children and their wellbeing.

"This is a constant balancing act. Each school leader, principal, has to know what is possible and impossible in the dynamic they manage," he added. "But it will take several years and there's no other way around it."

School leaders are left challenging themselves to find ways to grow their gardens despite the freeze the pandemic brought. 

"I don’t think we all know how to get that piece right yet, or if we ever will," said Randy Belcher, principal at LD Bell High School in Hurst.

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