Senate Bill 1697: Texas Parents May Now Opt For Students to Repeat Grade Levels or Courses

Senate Bill 1697: Texas Parents May Now Opt For Students to Repeat Grade Levels or Courses

Parental options are now available to choose whether their children will repeat a grade level or courses after Senate Bill 1697 was passed according to a Newsweek article from July 26. which states,

“Last month, the Lone Star State saw the passage of a bill that empowers parents and other legal guardians to request that their child retake one or more academic courses or even repeat a grade if he or she has struggled to keep up with the demands of full-time schooling in a remote environment. The aforementioned parties can now elect to have their children repeat pre-K, kindergarten, first grade, second grade, and third grade; repeat the fourth grade, fifth grade, sixth grade, seventh grade, and eighth grade during the 2021-2022 school year alone; and repeat a course taken for high school credit during the 2021-2022 school year alone.”

SB 1697 is primarily intended to mitigate some of the learning disruption and loss incurred by the transition to remote instruction in the past year, according to the local news outlet WFAA.”

The bill was passed after the 2021 STARR test results revealed that there was an increase in the number of students who were not able to meet the grade level across all subjects and grade levels. The Texas Education Agency stated in their news article from June 28,

“As a result of the learning disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of students not meeting grade-level increased from 2019 across all subject areas and grade levels, with English I and English II being the only exceptions. As a subject area, mathematics reflects the largest decline in proficiency across all grade levels. Districts with a higher percentage of students learning virtually experienced a greater degree of decline. Districts with the highest percentage of in-person learners largely avoided any learning declines in reading.” 

The Texas Education Agency also released its analysis on the 2021 STARR test results which contained the historical comparison of the test results. As seen in the graph, there is an evident decline in the “Meet” grade level after the implementation of lockdowns and suspension of face-to-face classes. Notably, English I and English II were not among those subjects affected by Covid-19. 

Parents or guardians who want to opt for their child to repeat a grade or a high school course must first notify the school in writing before the first day of class begins. 

However, the school will form a retention committee to assess and review the student’s previous grades should a district or charter school’s staff disagree with the parent’s decision to have their children retake subjects or courses. Included in the retention committee are the principal, student’s parent or guardian, the teacher of the course or grade level, and other teachers that may be needed if there will be multiple classes to be repeated.