House Public Education Chairman Brad Buckley explained the legislative intent for HB 1605 to the State Board of Education at their work session last Thursday June 22. Chairman Buckley recalled his visits to Temple ISD classrooms where teachers chose to use high quality instructional materials provided by the Texas Education Agency.  He observed students engaged and working collaboratively under teacher guidance. Teachers told him that they spent significantly less time on lesson planning than before, and their students were more successful academically. Chairman Buckley believed that by providing rigorous high-quality instructional resources through the TEA and SBOE, student achievement would improve along with teachers’ job satisfaction and retention. His intention was not for the bill to be prescriptive but rather to support teachers with a road map of HQIM aligned to TEKS and to Texas values, while still giving teachers flexibility.

In reviewing the scope of the legislation, Commissioner Morath emphasized the expanded authority granted to the State Board of Education. The SBOE will determine how the additional funding in the bill will be disbursed to districts. He also noted the restoration of the IMTA to pre-2021 levels with $1.049 billion for the biennium, plus $324 million per year for new materials that would be adopted once rules are developed for the new Instructional Materials Review and Adoption (IMRA) process. The review process may involve teachers, parents, other experts, and TEA staff. The SBOE will also develop rules regarding vendor portals for parents to use to access instructional materials and rules governing parent requests for reviews of instructional materials at the district level. The Texas Education Agency is granted authority to develop standards, in consultation with stakeholders including educators, for a school district to use in reviewing instructional materials for foundation courses.

In addition to developing rules for the new IMRA process, the SBOE will develop rubrics to be used to evaluate instructional materials for quality, compliance with relevant statutes, suitability, and alignment to TEKS, including setting the percentage of TEKS that must be covered. Once the new review cycle is launched, instructional materials will be classified into one of three tiers: Full Subject Tier 1 – those that are intended to provide mastery of the TEKS in the required curriculum; Partial Subject Tier 2 – those that cover a subset of TEKS in the required curriculum; and Supplemental – materials designed to assist in the instruction of one or more TEKS, such as intervention resources. Additional funding of $40/student will give districts an incentive to select SBOE approved instructional materials. Like other IMTA funding, the $40/student/year will roll over to the next biennium if unused.

The Commissioner asked the SBOE to consider the prioritization of instructional materials for review, with a goal of starting the reviews in April 2024 for implementation in the 25-26 school year. HB 1605 specifies that Proclamation 2024 for Science, CTE, and other courses will go forward under the current adoption process, with reviews starting this summer for TEKS alignment and the Texas Resource Review using the current rubric. The SBOE’s discussion revealed a strong concern about the English Language Arts instructional materials. To comply with the phonics requirement in HB 3 from 2019, many districts may have to purchase new resources from the Texas Resource Review list of compliant phonics programs. SBOE members discussed the possibility of prioritizing K-5 ELAR and supplemental phonics for review, which would also benefit districts by making the additional funding in HB 1605 available to them to purchase phonics programs. Another priority that emerged in the discussion was K-12 mathematics, with SBOE chair Keven Ellis questioning whether a full TEKS update would be necessary prior to a math review cycle if the SBOE members felt the math TEKS were still effective. Under HB 1605, the SBOE no longer is required to revise TEKS prior to an instructional materials review.

The Commissioner noted the urgency to progress expeditiously with rulemaking in order to unlock the additional funding in the bill for district use. He estimated the rulemaking process could take 12 to 24 months. SBOE member Marisa Perez-Diaz commented that she needed time to consult with her districts on their priorities. Determining subject and grade level priorities is likely to take place at the September SBOE meeting. This summer would be an excellent time to reach out to your SBOE member and provide input.

The SBOE Session Presentation can be found here.