At-home learners are failing classes at higher rates than in-person students in Longview ISD, and the district is trying to find a solution.

Trustees received a report Monday on grades for the first six weeks for each campus.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Texas districts have the option to allow remote learning for parents who do not want to send their children to campus. Longview ISD offers two options for at-home learners: synchronous, which has the student and teacher engaged at the same time, or asynchronous, which does not require the student and teacher to be logged on at the same time.

Assistant Superintendent of Campus Accountability Horace Williams said, as of Monday, 8,339 students are enrolled at Longview ISD, and 2,831, or about 34%, are remote learners.

The report to trustees showed the total number of failing grades in courses at the six-week mark by each campus, excluding the East Texas Montessori Prep Academy and the Longview Early Graduation High School.

The district reported a total of 1,208 failing grades in courses at the six-week mark for in-person students. Comparatively, there were 1,856 failing grades in courses for remote learners.

Of the failing grades for the remote learners, 665 were linked to synchronous instruction and 1,191 to asynchronous instruction.

Two campuses had more failing grades among in-person students than remote learners. Hudson PEP Elementary School had 66 failing grades among on-campus students and 49 failing grades among remote learners. Ware East Texas Montessori Academy had 253 failing grades in courses for in-person students and 67 for at-home learners.

“We’ve got to get them back in class,” board President Ginia Northcutt said. “So how are we going to get them back in class? Because it’s obvious those in school are not failing at nearly the rate of those who are not in the classroom. What’s the plan?”

Williams responded that “the plan is multi-tier.”

“There may be lots of phone calls to parents. They’re talking to parents and students about the needs to have them back on campus,” he said. “For those who are asynchronous, there’s thoughts of taking them off asynchronous and going synchronous or going back to campus. In some cases, they’re telling them, ‘You’re not going to be able to take either. You need to come back to campus because of the student’s report.’ “

Williams said the campuses also are sending staff members to homes and giving students the opportunity to make up assignments they might have missed to help improve grades.

Place 1 Trustee Michael Tubb said during the meeting that some districts have taken away the option for remote learning. New Diana ISD discontinued its remote learning program on Sept. 28, and Gilmer and Hawkins ISDs followed suit this week because of problems with grades and attendance.

Williams said some students are transferring to Longview ISD because of the remote learning option.

But, he said the district still is making it clear to some parents that the option for at-home learning could be eliminated.

“Because of the synchronous and asynchronous failures, it’s important they come back to school,” Williams said. “They need the tutorials, they need the in-person guidance from the teachers.”

Some students working during school hours also is disrupting their learning, in some cases.

“Some of our asynchronous students are going to work with their parents or have to work during the day, but we need to ensure they’re getting their work done by the end of the day,” Williams said.

Another concern is end-of-year assessments, Superintendent James Wilcox told the board.

“Last spring, the students that did their work and the students that didn’t do their work got the same grade,” he said. “That came down from TEA. This is not going to happen this school year. You’re going to get the grade that you get.”

Wilcox said he and other local superintendents are dealing with the same problem — some students and parents believe the state will make the same decision it did in the spring. He said that is not going to happen.

“Another layer of that, the STAAR test will be given to students this spring,” he said. “It’s a big deal getting our kids back to the classroom, and part of that is them and their parents understanding you’re going to get what you make this year, and you need all the help you can get.”

Kristen is the News-Journal's education reporter. A Longview native, she got a journalism degree and a graduate certificate at Texas Tech University. She covers a variety of issues, including school finance, board meetings and happenings at local schools.