Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation to Study COVID’s Impact on Texas Hispanic Public School Students

September 28, 2021

Major grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will allow groundbreaking research.

(DALLAS, Texas, Sept. 28, 2021) — The Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation is preparing to conduct some of the organization’s most ambitious and groundbreaking research after securing a significant investment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The nearly $400,000 grant is intended to study the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the educational development of Hispanic public school students in Texas. The grant is the largest investment in TxHPF since the organization was founded in 2019.

“The success of Texas’ future depends on the success of Texas Hispanic students today,” said TxHPF Chairman and CEO Jason Villalba. “This important research will allow us to see how young Hispanic Texans have fared in their academic development over the last year and a half. We know that the pandemic has interrupted learning in ways that have impacted all students. This research will help educators and policymakers gain a better understanding of the challenge Hispanic students are facing.”

Regina Montoya, the President of the TxHPF, echoed Villalba’s remarks, “With this vital research, policy makers from the local, state and federal levels will better understand not only the magnitude of the learning loss that Texas students face, but the impact that the pandemic has on Texas’ future workforce.  Unless we find actionable and viable solutions to this problem, in a few short years, Texas can expect a workforce shortage of historic proportions.”

About 53% of students enrolled in Texas public schools are Hispanic, according to Texas Education Agency data from the 2019-20 school year.

The TxHPF will examine existing data, including state assessments, to contextualize the impact of pandemic learning interruptions; conduct surveys to analyze the factors, drivers and primary sources of learning interruptions on Hispanic students; and conduct public-opinion research of Texas families, and Hispanic families in particular, to determine sentiment on certain education-related topics. Each of these components of the project will inform at least 10 discreet policy recommendations that TxHPF will make to state and local officials.

“The goal of this project is to look closely not only at test scores, but also at the attitudes of Texas Hispanic students and their families,” Villalba said. “It would be naïve to assume that all students, or all demographic groups, have felt the impact of learning loss in the same way. We want to give policymakers solutions that are tailored to helping Hispanic students overcome the pandemic-related learning disruptions.”

The TxHPF collaborates with the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University to conduct research and collect data. In August 2020, the TxHPF was the first major research organization to forecast that then-President Donald Trump was running relatively well among Texas Hispanics. Those survey results proved to be strikingly accurate on Election Night 2020, when Trump performed stronger than previous Republican candidates in heavily Hispanic regions of the state.

The TxHPF is planning to conduct other election-related polling later this year, as Texas heads into several competitive primary elections in races for statewide office.

“Our Foundation is taking a major step forward and will continue to demonstrate our unique value in helping explain the attitudes and preferences of Texas Hispanics,” Villalba said. “Our upcoming look at the impact of the pandemic on learning will demonstrate our versatility and credibility as an organization. We are extremely grateful to the Gates Foundation for its investment in our work and, more importantly, for its commitment to the success of Hispanic students in Texas.”

About the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation
The Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation operates as a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated and committed to analyzing and exploring the political, economic, social, demographic, and familial attitudes and behaviors of Texas Hispanics. In collaboration with Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, the Foundation conducts surveys, polls, research, data collection and analysis concerning the Hispanic population in Texas. You can find more information about the Foundation at www.TxHPF.org.