SAN ANTONIO — The federal government is sending more money to Texas schools. Here locally, school districts are hoping to use it to help students who fell behind during the pandemic.
"The gaps that really already existed have just widened," said Janis Jordan, the Deputy Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction for Northside ISD.
In fact, the TEA reports the number of students not meeting grade level minimums increased across all subject areas (except writing) and grade levels— especially in mathematics.
Economically disadvantaged students in districts with more than three quarters of their student population in school saw a 4% decrease in meeting reading expectations and a 17% decrease in math.
For Hispanic students, there was a 2% decrease in reading performance and a 10% decrease in math. And for Black students, there was a 3% decrease in reading performance and a 12% decrease in math.
"Many students missed key foundational building blocks and that then carried over to the following year," Jordan said.
Additionally, students of color came back to school at lower rates.
According to data provided by Northside ISD, 48% of Asian students came back to school for in-person learning, compared to 58% of Black students, 61% of Hispanic students and 67% of white students.
This created a loss in learning
"Our goal, of course, is always to eliminate the gap," Jordan said.
The U.S. Department of Education is sending an additional $4.1 billion after approving Texas’ plan for the summer and upcoming school year. In total, Texas will receive $12.4 billion from the American Rescue Plan.
Northside ISD had to submit their own plan on how these funds would be used, and will receive more than $172 million.
"Sixty percent of the funds that are directed specifically to learning loss," Jordan said. The funds will be used for instructional materials and hiring more tutors and staff. On top of that, the money will also be going toward mental health resources.
"We connect them not only with professionals, adults who are professionals, licensed psychologists, but we also connect them with their peers in ways that help them be part of the school that maybe they felt very isolated from," Jordan said.
For the few students who still qualify for remote learning, Jordan said they can use federal funds for that, too, since the state is not providing funding for students participating in virtual instruction.
"It's a very small number at grades one through five for next year only," Jordan said.
KENS 5 reached out to the two other major school districts in San Antonio, but did not respond to requests for comment.
Related links on KENS 5: