New details have become available about the literacy achievement academies required by House Bill 3 for all classroom teachers and principals in grades K-3. The first participants in the literacy achievement academies are expected to start this July.

While the target for completion of the literacy achievement academies was the 2021-22 school year, the Texas Education Agency has extended the deadline to the end of the 2022-23 school year. New teachers subsequently must attend an academy prior to their first year of assignment in those grades.

All K-3 teachers and principals must register for the literacy academies, but there are some exemptions and additional options.

Exemptions/options

Teachers holding all-level certification in art, health education, music, physical education, speech communication and theater arts, or theater, are exempt.

Teachers who participated in the 2018-19 READ Grant can count their participation toward the HB 3 literacy requirement.

TEA also is offering a Fast Track option for skilled participants that requires district-level approval.  According to TEA’s Reading Academy Authorized Provider FAQ Page, “the participant will be tasked with successfully passing all 7 artifacts on their first attempt. If they do not pass any single artifact, they will not pass the course, and will be required to enroll in a blended or comprehensive course. The district will not be refunded the cost of the Fast Track course.”

Per TEA, the Fast Track option is recommended for highly skilled reading teachers with prior certifications or licensures related to reading or dyslexia intervention. This option will be available after Sept. 15, 2020.

Providers

Districts may work with any authorized provider in Texas. There are currently 38, including all 20 Region Education Service Centers. Click here for the full list of authorized providers.

Reading Academy design

TEA has authorized three models, a comprehensive model, a blended model, and one involving reading cohort leaders employed by school districts (click here for more information, see pages labeled 6-7).

Regardless of the model chosen, TEA anticipates that between training and demonstrating understanding and application of concepts, it will take participants about 60 hours to complete the academies.

Districts can choose which model their K-3 teachers and principals attend and by which year before the deadline they complete the academies. 

Participants who fail to demonstrate proficiency or to complete the requirements can be re-enrolled in a new cohort.

Reading Academy content

Reading Academy course modules are available via an online portal (CANVAS platform).

There are 12 modules, and performance tasks (e.g. artifacts) are embedded within modules. There are six artifacts. For example, at the end of Module 6, Phonological Awareness, teachers will video themselves providing a very brief phonological awareness lesson using the gradual release of responsibility framework. Two of the artifacts will be graded by cohort leaders, while the remainder will be graded by the CANVAS platform.

Cohort leaders

Cohort leaders must meet certain TEA qualifications, including demonstrating proficiency via a centralized TEA screening, and must have served as a teacher in grades K-5 for three or more years across their career.

In addition to demonstrating proficiency on the screening assessment, the cohort leader must be hired either directly by an approved provider or by a district that has signed a memorandum of understanding with an approved provider to implement the academy locally.

Cohort Leader training begins June 29-July 1st for cohort leaders who will be serving in July and will be held virtually.

Timelines

School districts can work with their authorized providers to form and register cohorts of participants. If a school district is an authorized provider, it can form cohorts as well. The earliest a cohort can launch is July 13, 2020.

Funding

School districts receive several new funding sources in HB 3 that can be used to support reading instruction, including paying for teacher attendance at reading academies. TEA strongly encourages school districts to structure the reading academies within designated campuswide professional development and/or professional learning community days to ensure that staff has ample opportunity to complete the required content and to keep costs down.