As required by House Bill 3, which was passed by the 86th Texas Legislature in June 2019, all teachers and principals who serve kindergarten through third-grade students must begin Texas Reading Academies training before the 2022-23 school year. The Texas Reading Academies are authorized by the Texas Education Agency, a state agency that oversees primary and secondary public education.
The goal of the reading academies is to increase teacher knowledge and implementation of evidence-based practices to improve student literacy, according to the TEA. The content includes modules on phonological awareness, reading fluency and composition.
“We look at this favorably, but there’s quite a bit of work to do,” MISD Superintendent Beau Rees said at a Feb. 18 board of trustees meeting.
Wendy Graves, assistant superintendent of elementary education, addressed the board to lay out a tentative plan for MISD to meet the state mandate.
MISD will follow either a blended or comprehensive model, based on stakeholder feedback, Graves said. Due to the district’s small size, the chosen model will be locally implemented, meaning the district will offer Texas Reading Academies at its local facilities in conjunction with a memorandum of understanding with an authorized provider. The models are taught by facilitators, also known as cohort leaders.
The comprehensive model includes 10 face-to-face sessions and is based on participant completion. The blended model includes online modules, and participants must demonstrate competency to pass. Both models cover the same content and are expected to take 11 months, although costs differ, Graves said.
“With any type of initiative, there’s a cost,” she said.
The blended model has a $10,000 flat fee per facilitator per school year, plus salary and benefits for each facilitator, she said. The comprehensive model has a $12,000 flat fee per facilitator per school year, plus salary and benefits.
So far in academic year 2019-20, MISD has received $433,000 from HB 3's early education allotment to pay for these costs, Graves said, adding she is unsure how much money the district will receive next year.
The blended model has 100 participants per cohort, and each facilitator’s workload is 12 hours per week, per cohort. One facilitator can lead up to three cohorts. Meanwhile, the comprehensive model has 60 participants per cohort; the coach’s workload is 40 hours per week; and one coach can lead one cohort. Costs and cohort leader-to-participant ratios are set by the TEA, but MISD must determine how it will accommodate the training, Graves said.
“We would not be able to accomplish this with our current calendar. We’re talking about a phased-in model,” she said. “We will adjust our training calendars.”
In March, cohort leaders will apply for approval with the TEA, according to MISD. In May, the approved cohort leaders will attend training. From July to June 2021, the first cohort of teachers and administrators—about 50—will be trained. The second cohort of 120 staff will be trained from July 2021-June 2022, and the third cohort of 30 staff will be trained from July 2022-June 2023. The district is in the process of determining how to divvy up its resources and staff to accommodate this training, Graves said.
“At this time, we’re trying to figure out ... what’s the best way to tackle this with the people that we have,” she said.