Katy ISD curriculum leaders are forging ahead with informing staff and board members about changes resulting from HB 1605. Chief Academic Officer Dr. Christine Caskey and Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning Dr. Sanee Bell have collaborated on meetings and presentations related to HB 1605, with Dr. Caskey doing the background research and Dr. Bell looking at the practical aspects of what it will look like to implement new procedures in the district.

Dr. Caskey stressed the importance of involving other departments, such as Finance and Human Resources, which will also be impacted by provisions of the bill, which affects at least eight legal policies. For example, their CFO needed more information about the two additional funding entitlements over and above the basic Instructional Materials and Technology Allotment.  Dr. Caskey commented that the $40/student additional funding for State Board of Education instructional materials is not enough to fully fund a core foundation subject adoption; the additional $3.8 million generated is less than half the cost of their most recent literacy adoption, which was over $10 million. Thus, the district will still have to rely on the IMTA fund to fully cover the cost. KISD Human Resources has been involved in conversations about HB 1605 restrictions to non-instructional duties of teachers.

Many ambiguities remain to be clarified by the Texas Education Agency rulemaking, according to Dr. Caskey and Dr. Bell. For example, what constitutes an “initial lesson plan” as defined in the rules for teacher time protection? And how do these requirements affect courses such as CTE or electives such as foreign languages? Parent access is another area of ambiguity: Katy ISD, like many districts, has current policies in place that enable parents to review instructional materials at their student’s school. However, HB 1605 allows parents to request a curriculum audit—what will that look like at a district level? “It’s like a big puzzle,” commented Dr. Caskey, “there are still so many moving pieces and things that aren’t yet definite.”

Going forward, Dr. Caskey remarked that “it will be hard to justify choosing anything that is not on the SBOE list” for Tier 1, core curriculum as defined in HB 1605, and “we will be looking at SBOE instructional materials first” for foundation subjects. For supplemental resources, they do not see any impact now, and they will continue to use their IMTA to fund supplemental instructional materials, focusing on the TEKS alignment and value, as well as the impact on specific identified needs. Proclamation 2024 is moving forward under previous rules, with the district committee’s selection to be submitted for approval at the April board meeting.

At the Katy ISD school board meeting on March 25, Dr. Caskey presented HB 1605 to school board members. Her slide deck may be viewed at this link. Board members were particularly interested in the additional funding available to the district. Several members questioned the impact of the “teacher time protections” and questioned how much time teachers were currently spending planning lessons. Dr. Caskey noted that Katy ISD already provides K-5 literacy teachers with instructional resources including lesson plans.  Instructional materials that cover the TEKS are already provided for foundation subjects. Other questions from school board members focused on understanding the difference between SBOE approved HQIM and OER resources and the additional funding entitlements available for each of these.

Dr. Bell remarked that overall, Katy ISD has already seen positive impacts from their move to more thoroughly vetted HQIM. After implementing a new literacy program aligned to the Science of Reading district-wide over the last year, Dr. Bell observed that campuses were much more consistent in instructional practices, and this has helped curriculum specialists in supporting campuses more efficiently and effectively. “We are having better and more focused conversations with campus leaders about instructional quality since we have gone from multiple, different resources on campuses to a single HQIM resource that is being followed with more fidelity.”  And she added, “having consistency of HQIMs has not replaced the need for the art of the teacher or the teacher’s creativity.”

Next week, the State Board of Education will meet, and on Tuesday, April 9, the agenda includes consideration of new rules for state review and approval of instructional materials as well as an update on HB 1605. See the agenda and watch the livestream at the new SBOE website: SBOE Homepage | State Board of Education (texas.gov)

More information about HB 1605: House Bill 1605 and IMRA | Texas Education Agency