MCISD navigates online learning

Posted 9/15/20

The Madisonville Consolidated Independent School District (MCISD) Board discussed a slight decrease in student enrollment and how the district is navigating required online instruction in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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MCISD navigates online learning

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The Madisonville Consolidated Independent School District (MCISD) Board discussed a slight decrease in student enrollment and how the district is navigating required online instruction in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“All things considered, we are off to a wonderful start,” said Superintendent Keith Smith. “The most difficult thing we have to deal with right now is that the online instruction, combined with the in-person instruction, is really stressful and difficult for our teachers and administrators to pull off. There has been a lot of pressure on them.”

Smith stated roughly 82% of their enrolled students are participating in in-person learning while 18% have opted for the online, asynchronous plan.

“Over 50% of our students who are doing the online instruction are currently failing,” said Smith. “A lot of it is they are just not turning in the work. We are going to be reaching out to parents and kids to say, look, you cannot just stay there and fail all your classes. Hopefully, we will see those (in-person vs. asynchronous instruction numbers) shift to about 90-10%.”

Smith also criticized a lack of support from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and their inability to alleviate some of the aforementioned pressure on educators and administers as they attempt to adjust to the new normal.

“Unfortunately, (TEA) has very little experience in education,” said Smith. “They have never been in a classroom, they have never been building principals; by definition, they are ignorant. They create a lot of policies and rules that really have very little value when it comes to the instruction of the child that it increases the burden of the teachers and the principals, and the superintendent for that matter, in trying to pull off a successful instruction process.”

Smith also stated that all school districts in the state of Texas are struggling with the TEA’s asynchronous instruction plan and its expectations.

“We will get through it,” said Smith. “We will figure out some ways we can maybe work a little smarter and take some of the burden off our teachers. A school is only as strong as its teaching staff and we have a really good one. We want to keep it that way.”

Like the rest of the state, MCISD’s enrollment is down from last year. When recorded last week, they were down 80 students throughout the district, but have picked up some students since that time.

This number could be attributed to the fact that some parents have opted to homeschool their children during the pandemic in lieu of in-person or asynchronous instruction. Smith also stated a number of parents who would have had Kindergartners in the district this year have opted to hold off as a result of the pandemic.

The board also officially passed their 2020-21 asynchronous plan for submission to the TEA, who are requiring every district turn in their plan by Oct. 1 despite the fact that school has already been in session for over a month.

MCISD’s plan was put together by Assistant Superintendent Keith West and based off another that the TEA has labeled “exemplary”.

“This is the centerpiece, with the ideas (Superintendent Smith) said about the TEA’s role in all this, and their lack of knowledge of how a campus, and certainly how a district, runs,” said West to the board. “But the reason this plan has to be put together at the end of the day is to secure funding for the remote students. If you don’t have a plan that meets their specifications on file by the end of the second six-week period, you basically lose funding for your remote kids.”

The board approved the presented plan after it was thoroughly presented by West.

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