WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — The start of the 2021-2022 school year is less than a month away for the Wichita Falls Independent School District and there are some glaring issues ahead of students returning to the classroom.

“We’ve got to fix WFISD and right now all we know is we’re drowning, I agree, we don’t know if we’re drowning in three feet of water or seven feet of water, but we’re drowning and that’s what we’ve got to fix,” WFISD School Board Place 1 Bob Payton said.

Preliminary STAAR testing results from last year saw an average 8-10 point drop in “approaching” and a 1-5 drop in “meets” and “masters” across tested subjects, an obvious problem, but the district believes there are some factors.

“We have not been on campuses as much as we would have liked to have been on campuses in the last year and a half,” Associate Superintendent Dr. Peter Griffiths said.

Not having administration on campuses as frequently, monitoring and providing hands-on help when students are falling behind, along with remote and non-face-to-face struggles.

“You had students who were on campus, off campus, who might be here for a few days and then they’re quarantined, I mean the instability was ridiculous, but it’s understandable what we went through, so we made it, but now we know where we have to make improvements,” Dr. Griffiths said.

And while the numbers show weaknesses, they are hard to fully compare to other districts without knowing how many students were actually tested around the state, while so many of their remote students returned for STAAR testing.

“We don’t know if they tested a lot of their students, if they had them back in the building or what — our poorest students stayed home the most, in other words, a lot of them missed a substantial part of last year, but they showed up to take a test,” WFISD Superintendent Mike Kuhrt said.

Identifying a problem throughout grades and subjects around the district, and now, they’re ready to turn those numbers around, in-person.

“We do have data that shows we have a lot of weaknesses that we’re going to have to overcome so both staff and students are going to have to roll up their sleeves and get to work this next year,” Kuhrt said.

As Dr. Griffiths and his team will be more involved across the entire WFISD.

“It needs to be exciting, kids need to be excited about coming back to school and get things, accountability is just apart of our lives in education now,” Griffiths said.

Plans of fixing the flooding and getting back to the WFISD standard before the first day of school, which is officially less than a month away, on August 12th.