Expanded tutoring required under recent Texas law

WACO, Texas (KWTX) – Midway ISD is back in the classroom on Wednesday, and like other districts, teachers are scrambling to catch up with students after a tough year.

The district is significantly expanding the tutoring it offers this year to ensure students are at grade level. While it helps, tutoring is required by Bill 4545.

The legislature passed the bill in June, and it requires students who have not passed STAAR tests or course-leaving exams to receive accelerated education.

Accelerated instruction can take place in two ways: students can either be assigned a teacher who is a certified master, exemplary or recognized teacher, or students can receive additional tutoring.

Midway plans to offer tutoring, which is 30 hours per subject in which a student has failed. For example, if a student has failed in two subjects, they should have 60 hours of tutoring during the year.

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

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

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

“They had so many tests that they passed. They followed, as usual, reading and mathematics, and they also followed scientific and social studies,” said Dr Peña. “It didn’t happen often, but sometimes a student would fail all four.”

Despite working on logistics, the district said tutoring is important in bringing students up to grade after a difficult school year.

“I think it’s going to have a really positive impact,” Dr Peña said. “We hire the best teachers we can find. We provide small groups for these students. We use high quality teaching materials, we train our tutors.

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

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