THREE EARLY education bills that call for math and literacy achievement academies as part of Governor Greg Abbott’s emergency agenda were approved unanimously
in the senate Thursday. “I applaud the Texas Senate for recognizing the importance of providing our teachers with the tools necessary to improve numeracy and literacy instruction and ensuring students are receiving the highest quality education possible in critical early years,” the governor said. “ Today ’s vote is an important first step toward trans forming the foundation of our state’s early education system for generations to come, and I look forward to signing this legislation into law.”
Abbott announced in February that early education was his first emergency agenda item. He said his goal is that all Texas students will read and perform mathematics at grade level by third grade. He announced plans to add funding for schools to
adopt high-quality pre-K programs and a world-class literacy and math teacher
training program. Senate bills 925,934 and 935, introduced by republican senator from Brenham Lois Kolkhorst, address the training programs. SB925 would develop literacy achievement academies for teachers who instruct students in kindergarten or first, second or third grades. The academies would include training in instruction, phone mic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension for qualified teachers. Teachers who are in districts where 50 per cent or more students are educationally disadvantaged would receive priority, according to the bill.
The house is considering a companion bill, HB 1843. SB 934 is virtually identical to SB 925 except that it relates to math achievement academies to train K-3 teachers in numeracy instruction and technology. HB 2609 is a companion bill. The third bill, SB 935, establishes reading excellence teams to school campuses that have low performing reading scores for third graders. A team of
instructional specialists would be assigned to the campus to review the results of the diagnostic reading instruments from the two previous school years to determine which classrooms need attention.