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TEA providing free online learning software to districts across the state

School districts can access free online learning from Schoology
Published: Jul. 31, 2020 at 6:04 PM CDT
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CALDWELL, Texas (KBTX) -School districts like College Station and Bryan ISD leaned heavily on the Schoology program during the spring to help better educate students online. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) will now provide the learning management software to all districts across the state for the next two years.

Schoology allows easy access to classes, assignments, grades, and more, supporting learning in the classroom, at home, or both. Currently, more than one million students in Texas use the software, about 1 in 5 students statewide.

Caldwell ISD Superintendent Andrew Peters says they look forward to trying out the software.

“We use Google Classroom, but that’s not a true learning management system. What Schoology brings to the table is that it’s a true learning management system. It’s a container that’s on the internet that holds textbooks, all the assignments and allows students to even check-in,” said Peters.

Peters says he expects a third of Caldwell students to attend classes online this year, but the district is prepared if all students need to make the switch.

“We spent a quarter of a million dollars to buy enough Chromebooks for every child in our district to have one,” he said.

TEA Deputy Commissioner of School Programs Lily Laux says the goal is to make learning easier on students and teachers.

“It is really crucial for easing the burden on teachers in a remote or hybrid setting. It just makes it easier to track engagement and student progress, which is all things districts are grappling with right now,” said Laux.

The Schoology project is funded through the CARES Act and part of TEA’s Texas Home Learning 3.0 initiative, designed to support schools, teachers, parents, and students during the COVID-19 crisis. By utilizing the state’s purchasing power, the TEA says school systems will save more than $40 million out of local budgets and taxpayers should save up to $22 million during the program’s life.

“Texas schools are working mightily to meet the educational needs of millions of kids who will participate in school remotely given the public health situation. TEA is working to provide as much support to school systems as possible, including fully funding schools for remote instruction and providing schools with free, high-end teaching technology so that the remote education experience is effective for our students,” said Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath. “This Learning Management System allows teachers to seamlessly communicate with their students and helps their students stay focused on their lessons while learning from home and will go a long way toward ensuring Texas students continue making major academic gains even during the pandemic.”

Bryan ISD launched Schoology in spring 2020 and Superintendent Christie Whitbeck was a big proponent of making the system available across Texas.

“We implemented Schoology during this unprecedented pandemic. The ability to distribute quality lessons to our teachers and monitor our students’ participation and progress led to 97 percent student engagement,” said Whitbeck. ”TEA’s free offering to school systems will provide tremendous opportunities for students and teachers alike.”

Peters says the next thing Caldwell ISD hopes to address is better internet access for students.

“The next big piece is getting quality internet to the rural areas,” said Peters.

TEA says they are working on a connectivity plan to get devices and internet access to students across the state.

Copyright 2020 KBTX. All rights reserved.

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