Reading Academies - FAQ

 

General

1. Who is required to take House Bill 3 (HB 3) Reading Academies?
All K-3 teachers, including special education teachers, and principals are required to complete the HB 3 Reading Academies by 2023. This includes literacy specialists who see K-3 students in small groups and K-3 departmentalized teachers. While there are some formal processes pending, Authorized Providers and LEAs can proceed to exempt teachers who hold “all-level certification in art, health education, music, physical education, speech communication and theatre arts, or theatre,” as described in §231.3(a).

2.  What implementation options can districts choose from?
Districts can select one of the following implementation options:

  • Use an Authorized Provider: Districts can enter into a MOU/contract directly with an Authorized Provider that provides all logistical, technological, and content support for the district.
  • Implement Locally: Enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU)/contract with an Authorized Provider. The district is responsible for hiring cohort leaders who provide content support to Reading Academy participants.
  • Serve as an Authorized Provider: Districts may apply annually to serve as an Authorized Provider.

Note: Districts may wish to implement the blended model locally but use an Authorized Provider to provide the comprehensive model. In that case, districts need to enter into two separate MOUs/contracts with the Authorized Provider.

3. What is the difference between comprehensive and blended models?
Participants in the comprehensive and blended models engage in literacy focused professional development delivered with the Canvas learning management system. Throughout this process, teachers will participate in ongoing formative assessment through checks-for-understanding and will complete summative artifacts.

Key differences between the models include:

  • Participants enrolled in the comprehensive model receive four personalized, job-embedded coaching sessions during the year they complete Reading Academies.
  • Participants enrolled in the comprehensive model are required to complete artifacts, due to the additional support they will receive through their personalized coaching sessions.
  • Participants enrolled in the blended model must demonstrate mastery on artifacts.

4. What are the three Reading Academies paths?

Once registered, participants can enroll in one of three paths:

  • English Language Arts (or “General Ed.”) path: designed for general and special education teachers
  • Biliteracy path: designed for bilingual general and special education teachers providing instruction in Spanish
  • Administration path: designed for site and district leadership staff, including principals

5. What is the deadline for current educators to complete Reading Academies?
TEA will propose rules allowing districts through the 2022-23 school year to train current staff. Districts should plan for all staff to be enrolled by the 2022-23 school year.

6. How can I ensure that I receive updates on the Reading Academies when they are released?
All updates are posted to the TEA Reading Practices webpage or you may sign up for the “Reading Practices” newsletter to receive monthly email updates.

 

District Decision Making

1. What costs are associated with Reading Academies?
Costs are dependent on the implementation structure your district chooses. For more information, please see our implementation structure overview.

2. What funds can be used to pay for Reading Academies?
New reading funding sources, such as the Early Education Allotment, the Dyslexia Allotment, and/or the Basic Allotment increase can be utilized. In addition, you may consider Coordinated Early Intervening Services (CEIS) funds, the Bilingual Allotment, or Compensatory Education funds. The decision of which funds to utilize, or to use funds outside this list, is at district discretion.

3. How will we know which Regional Educational Service Centers (ESCs), districts or other non-profit organizations are selected to be Authorized Providers?
The list of Authorized Providers for 2020-2021 are hosted on our website here.  It includes all 20 Regional ESCs.  Authorized Providers are approved in an annual cycle.

4. How long will it take for a teacher/administrator to complete Reading Academies?

It is designed to be completed in no more than 10 full days over an 11-month period. Districts can personalize time frames for teachers, as long as the teachers are able to complete the full training within 11 months of beginning online content.

5. Is TEA planning to release a professional development schedule that districts should follow in order to ensure participant completion of the Reading Academies?
TEA will not release a required professional development schedule. Districts entering into a MOU/contract with an Authorized Provider should work with the Authorized Provider to determine scheduling. TEA is pleased to provide sample schedules as they come available that can be used to begin planning.

6. Will TEA provide a screening assessment for districts to determine which participants should be enrolled in a comprehensive versus blended model?
There will be no screening assessment provided before teachers begin Reading Academies content. For more information on Reading Academies assessments, please see the Assessment and Exemption section of this FAQ.

7. Can district administrators attend either the TEA Authorized Provider training or Cohort Leader training in order to gain deeper knowledge around Reading Academies?
Unfortunately, due to space and time constraints, TEA will only be able to offer training to selected Authorized Providers and Cohort Leaders. However, we will release general information included in these trainings for district use and are always available to answer questions.

 

Local Implementation

1. If my district chooses the local implementation option, how/when will we pay the Authorized Provider flat fee?
Districts will pay this fee to the Authorized Provider yearly, per each comprehensive coach and blended facilitator. For more information, please see our implementation structure overview.

2. If my district chooses the local implementation option, will TEA provide a job description to use for hiring cohort leaders?
We will not provide a TEA-approved job description, in order to allow districts using local implementation to tailor the position to suit their distinct needs. However, you may reach out to an Authorized Provider to see if they have a sample job description you can personalize for your district.

3. If my district chooses the Local Implementation model, how should we determine whether to hire or use existing staff as cohort leaders?
Districts can choose to use existing staff to complete cohort leader duties. However, some of the cohort leader’s other responsibilities will need to be reduced or shifted to other personnel.

 

Cohort Leaders

1. What is a cohort leader?
“Cohort leader” refers to a Reading Academies comprehensive coach or blended facilitator. They are the only personnel authorized to lead trainings, and are employed by an Authorized Provider, or by a district that adopts the Local Implementation model and signs an MOU with an Authorized Provider.

2. What is the difference between a blended facilitator and a comprehensive coach?
Blended facilitators and comprehensive coaches rate artifacts and offer online content support through module discussions.

Comprehensive coaches also provide four personalized, job-embedded coaching sessions per participant in their cohort. One of the coaching sessions can be virtual.

A full-time cohort leader can serve:

  • Up to three blended cohorts (100 participants per blended cohort)

OR

  • One comprehensive cohort (up to 60 participants per comprehensive cohort)

A part-time cohort leader can serve:

  • One blended cohort (12-13 hours per week)

OR

  • Two blended cohorts (24-26 hours per week)

3. If I want to enroll some of my teachers in a comprehensive model and some in the blended model, can I hire a single cohort leader to serve as blended facilitator and comprehensive coach?
Unfortunately, no. Districts need to hire for each role to ensure the comprehensive coach and the blended facilitator will be able to meet the needs of their cohorts.

4. I am considering using current district-level staff as cohort leader. Can they do this and keep other district duties?
A current staff member can serve as a part-time blended facilitator while still holding other duties within the district. Because comprehensive coaches require a full-time commitment, this role cannot be split with other district duties.

5. What does the cohort leader screening process entail?

Prospective candidates must pass a three-step screening process to serve as a Reading Academies cohort leader.

  • Step 1: Pass a validated multiple-choice pre-screening assessment. This pre-screener will be scored electronically, and candidates will receive immediate results. Only candidates that pass the pre-screener will move on to the second step of the process.
  • Step 2: Complete all artifacts that participants will complete during Reading Academies. Westat, the national comprehensive center supporting Texas, will convene a panel of 12 experts responsible for scoring the artifacts.
  • Step 3: Review and evaluate sample artifacts. All candidates will be given prompts, sample response artifacts, and grading guidance. The evaluated artifacts also will be scored by the Westat panel of experts.

Generally, APs or districts implementing locally may want to ensure that all cohort leader candidates have served as teachers in grades K-5 for three or more (non-consecutive) years across their careers (special education or general education). Graduate-level training and coursework (e.g., MRT, Reading Specialist Certification, CALT, CALP, LDT) may be substituted for K-5 experience.

6. Is there any way to exempt applicants from the course leader screening process?
No. To ensure cohort leaders have all necessary skills to successfully support Reading Academies, every cohort leader must participate in the screening process.

7. How can someone prepare for the course leader screening process?
Prospective candidates can visit the TEA HB 3 Reading Academies webpage to find materials that will help them prepare.

8. What training is provided for cohort leaders after they pass the screening process?
After both (a) passing the screening process and (b) obtaining employment with an Authorized Provider, or district operating under MOU with an Authorized Provider, TEA will assign cohort leaders to training sessions that will take place before the launch of their Reading Academies cohort, starting at the end of June (2020) for the first July cohorts. All trainings will be virtual.

 

Assessment and Exemption

1. Will there be an assessment to exempt participants from Reading Academies?
No. All Texas K-3 teachers and principals, except teachers who hold “all-level certification in art, health education, music, physical education, speech communication and theatre arts, or theatre,” as described in §231.3(a), will need to participate in Reading Academies in order to meet HB 3 requirements.

2. How will participants be assessed throughout the Reading Academies modules?
Participants will be assessed formatively through Canvas-graded checks for understanding that might include multiple choice questions, discussion/reflection posts, peer evaluations, matching, and cloze passages. Participants also will complete seven artifacts over the course of the 12 Reading Academies modules. Five artifacts will be graded by Canvas and two will be graded by cohort leaders.

3. What if a teacher does not agree with a grade (rating) they receive on a Reading Academies artifact?

Authorized Providers will ensure accurate and fair grading on all modules by utilizing a system of multiple graders on each submitted artifact. Cohort leader-graded artifacts will be reviewed and graded by as many as two additional cohort leaders. When the first two graders do not agree, a third grader will evaluate the artifact and make a final determination regarding the grade.

4. My teachers have attended previous Reading Academies. Can that count towards the HB 3 Reading Academies requirement?
Only educators who participated in and completed the requirements of the 2018-19 READ Grant will receive credit for participation in the HB 3 Reading Academies.

5. My staff have recently participated in a related or similar training. Can this count towards the HB 3 Reading Academies requirement?
While TEA recognizes there are many strong literacy professional development programs currently utilized in the state of Texas, previous training will not meet nor count towards the HB 3 requirements.

6. Will there be options for participants to test out of Reading Academies?

There is a Fast Track option that requires district-level approval.  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.

 

Administrator Path

1. How does the Reading Academies administrator path differ from the two teacher paths?
The administrator path covers very similar content to the English Language Arts and biliteracy paths.  However, the administrator path is streamlined and modified to highlight the specific role of the administrator within the literacy community.

2. Can my assistant principals/instructional coaches/district literacy staff attend Reading Academies?
Yes. This is ultimately a local decision. While assistant principals and instructional coaches are not required to attend Reading Academies, we encourage anyone who will benefit to participate and to strengthen their understanding of applying scientifically based reading instruction.

 

Biliteracy Path

1. How will the biliteracy path be personalized for bilingual, dual language, or Spanish Language Arts and Reading (SLAR) teachers?
The following modules will be differentiated for participants enrolling in the biliteracy path: (4) Using Assessment Data to Inform Instruction, (6) Phonological Awareness, (7) Alphabet Knowledge (8) Decoding, Encoding, and Word Study, and (11) Composition.

2. Are bilingual, dual language, or SLAR teachers required to take the English Language Arts path and the biliteracy path?
No. Participants will choose one path.

3. Does the biliteracy path include information regarding both the English Language Arts and Reading (ELAR) and SLAR standards?
Yes. The biliteracy pathway will include information on both sets of TEKS. In addition, all paths will include information on best practices in supporting English language learners.

4. Will districts that implement locally need to hire separate cohort leaders for the English Language Arts and Biliteracy paths?

That decision is ultimately up to the district. It will depend on the number of teachers participating in each path, the number of cohorts planned, and whether cohort leaders qualify for the biliteracy path.

 

Prekindergarten and Grade 4-6 Teachers

1. My campus serves grade levels outside the K-3 grade band. Are the rest of my teachers required to participate in Reading Academies along with my K-3 teachers?
HB 3 requires K-3 teachers and principals to attend Reading Academies. However, each local district has discretion to send additional teachers.  For example, if your district regularly moves teachers between grade levels, you may want to consider proactively training other teachers as well.

2. Will there be TEA provided trainings for teachers outside the K-3 grade band?
Yes. After the implementation of the K-3 Reading Academies, TEA plans to provide additional Reading Academies content for prekindergarten and fourth and fifth grade educators. Information regarding future Reading Academies content will be released by early 2021.