PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - New data shows students in Prince George’s County Public Schools are failing at a rate nearly double this time last year.
FOX 5 has been working to get data on student achievement since January and finally got it this week through an open records request.
The data shows elementary students have been impacted the worst year over year, with nearly three times as many children failing.
The numbers the school district provided look at students failing at least one core subject for the second quarter. District-wide, there are over 40,000 students in that category, which has nearly doubled compared to last year. That’s despite enrollment being down over 4,600 students and over 3,300 being classified as "whereabouts unknown" after missing at least 10 days unexcused.
Yvette Reyes says her daughter, Lissette, is among students struggling with virtual learning and failing some classes. Lissette is in second grade at Mary Harris ‘Mother’ Jones Elementary in Adelphi.
"The most difficult (part) is feeling like I’m failing my kid," said Reyes.
Like so many parents, Reyes works full time. Her mother cares for Lissette during the day, but doesn’t speak English and can’t help with virtual learning.
"Trying to juggle working full time, especially with the hours that I work that conflict with her education – I just can’t choose," said Reyes. "I really can’t choose being her provider and the person who pays for the bills, for her education."
Reyes has gotten involved in the PTO at her daughter’s school and says many families are hurting even worse, struggling with basic necessities to make ends meet and feed their kids.
Across the district, 52 percent of Hispanic elementary students are failing a core class, the highest percentage of any group of students and the biggest jump over last year when 44 percent were failing.
This week the school board passed an initiative to offer learning hubs to students, after a more than two-week delay due to a canceled meeting. Learning hubs, which are already being utilized in surrounding counties, allow students to meet in small groups for virtual learning with an adult present who can assist them.
Board member Shayla Adams-Stafford championed the idea and said even as some students return to school two days a week next month, learning hubs will still be important.
"The goal of these hubs is to help students every day," said Adams-Stafford. "Students that have been disconnected for whatever reason."
The start date is not clear yet, nor is the number of students who will be able to be accommodated. But Adams-Stafford said plans are in the works and many churches and organizations have already reached out to offer their space.
"I’ve already gotten a ton of messages and emails from community members saying, ‘I want to chip in in some way,’" she said.
Reyes said she heard about the board vote from a friend as soon as it happened Monday night.
"I was like, ‘Great! Now what’s next?’" Reyes said.
She said this could be a game-changer for her and her daughter.
"We’ve needed this!" said Reyes.