Parents have new opportunity to hold their child back due to pandemic learning loss


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Parents who feel as if their child experienced learning loss at the hands of the pandemic have a unique opportunity to ensure their student repeats a grade or course during the 2021-2022 school year.

SB 1697, passed during the most recent regular Texas legislative session, gives the sole authority to parents to make the decision to hold their child back. Previously, school teachers and administrators were the primary decision-makers.

The Texas Education Agency said this option should especially be considered for the 25,000 kindergarten students who chose not to enroll during the 2020-2021 school year due to the pandemic.

“We are really emphasizing that because those years at the Pre-K and kindergarten level are critical,” said Frank Ward with the Texas Education Agency. “Giving them the chance to start anew is critical. You don’t want a child rolling into 1st grade when they didn’t have the proper preparation during kindergarten.”

For parents and guardians of students in the fourth through 12th grades, this is a one-and-done opportunity that will not be extended into the future. However, for Pre-K through third-grade families, the opportunity will exist every year.

“With any decision there are upsides and downsides. Of course, parents are always going to do what’s best for their kids,” Ward said. “There are going to be some schools, teachers and administrators who will say ‘we think your child is ready,’ and they will want to have a consultation with the parents. But ultimately it’s important to remember that this decision rests with parents and they have the final say in this.”

Any Texas parent who wants to have a child repeat a course or grade must inform their school in writing before the upcoming school year. Parents should contact their campus administrators quickly since most school districts are in the final stages of organizing plans for the upcoming fall semester.

The Texas Education Agency has assembled a helpful back-to-school webpage that can answer many remaining parent questions.

Reach KXAN’s Education Reporter Alex Caprariello by email at or by phone at 512-703-5365, or find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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