What are Reading Academies in House Bill 3?

Children Reading

If you haven’t heard of House Bill 3 (HB3), it’s one of the most important and complex Texas education bills in the last several decades. It provides a significant sum of money to districts to incentivize great teaching, but it also focuses on learning and student outcomes.

A major priority in HB3 is early literacy. It contains multiple reading initiatives and will require that each teacher and principal in grades kindergarten through 3rd grade attend Reading Academies by the 2021-2022 school year.

Emphasis on Reading and Early Literacy

According to the Texas Commission on Public School Finance, only “58% of students currently come to school kindergarten ready, and in 2018, only 4 in 10 students met the state’s 3rd grade reading standard.” In 2017, Texas children ranked 46th in the country in 4th grade reading proficiency.

There’s work to be done. HB3 will require local education agencies to provide a phonics curriculum using systematic direct instruction in grades K-3. Also, it states that districts must place highly-effective teachers in grades K-2, and have integrated reading instruments to measure student progress.

The bill will also require teachers to learn about the Science of Teaching Reading. This includes teaching language comprehension and word recognition that leads to skilled reading.

The Reading Academy Structure

The current structure of Reading Academies provides in-person training sessions and job-embedded coaching over the course of the year. In-person PD sessions occur 6 days during the school year and 8 days during the summer. Job-embedded coaching, artifact submission and review occur in the months between.

The current reading academies have been successful in improving teaching practices in ELAR, but the challenge occurs when attempting to scale Reading Academies to 121,000 educators by 2021-22.

The new Reading Academies will share a framework with a common vocabulary that aligns to appropriate TEKS. This will create standardized training to improve fidelity of implementation.

TEA has proposed a new structure that includes the blended model and the comprehensive model of attending. The blended model can be taken completely online at a learner’s own pace. It prompts teachers and principals to demonstrate competency through online artifact submission and interacting with a certified facilitator.

The comprehensive model has an in-person component, but it also adds online modules to reduce the time out of classroom. This translates to 10 days of in-person training a year and job embedded coaching two times per semester. Districts can choose which model is appropriate for their staff based on resources and funding.

When Can I Start?

Right now, the online modules for the blended model are being created. They will include an abundance of video and lesson examples that illustrate exemplar teaching. In addition, Academy providers will be certified prior to March 2020, when provider and facilitator training will begin. 

All eligible teachers and principals will be able to begin registration this spring for cohorts with a summer 2020 start. Then, additional cohorts will enroll on a quarterly basis. 

Districts must allocate funds for teacher and principal attendance for the chosen model and determine how reading academies fit into professional and in-service catalogs.  

Finally, House Bill 3 will have a momentous impact on Texas education and literacy for years to come! Check back soon to see how Region 13 can help you with in-person trainings for Reading Academies.

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