The Texas Education Agency has certified over 136,000 educators in the Science of Teaching Reading standards, which were adopted in 2018 to address the discipline and practice of teaching early reading in Texas. Reading Academies were established by the Texas Education Agency to support teacher knowledge and implement evidence-based practices informed by the Science of Teaching Reading to help improve student literacy achievement.
Texas reading scores have been declining since 2007 compared to national averages measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). In response, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) developed Reading Academies where teachers can learn, practice, implement, and reflect on successful literacy achievement strategies. The goal is to see substantial improvements for all students in Texas as defined in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) Subpart 2 – Literacy Education for All, Section 2221 (a)(b).
TEA partnered with the Region 14 Comprehensive Center (R14CC) and Reading Academies Authorized Providers to recruit and train Cohort Leaders—the instructors of the Science of Teaching Reading (STR) content—who serve as lead facilitators for Reading Academies.
In 2020, R14CC began working with TEA to focus on supporting the implementation and impact of STR in classrooms. This support would help ensure that the learning and resources offered to teachers continued after their certification completion.
This partnership has resulted in:
Expert Panel Reviews
R14CC convened a panel of statewide and national experts in STR to review the screening process for recruiting prospective Cohort Leaders. TEA ensured continuous quality improvement in the recruitment and training of prospective Cohort Leaders.
Efficiency and Alignment
R14CC increased the documentation of project tools, resources, communication structures, and protocols to establish project team alignment. Additionally, R14CC worked to make each scoring window more efficient by streamlining processes.
Implementation and Improvements
R14CC supported the successful execution of four Cohort Leader screening windows of Reading Academies. The screening windows consist of a two-part assessment that allow prospective Cohort Leaders to be tested on their proficiency in STR. R14CC supported TEA in developing solutions to challenges with the program, creating new assignments, and aligning resources that will improve the prospective Cohort Leader experience and progress monitoring.
Shift to In-Person Training
R14CC worked directly with TEA to create dashboards that illustrate performance data and ultimately determined that the first-time passer rates were higher for in-person instruction. R14CC collaborated with TEA to guarantee a smooth transition to an in-person structure for prospective Cohort Leaders. To further strengthen prospective Cohort Leader outcomes, the R14CC team created individualized, user-centered videos for the different components of STR training.
The Texas Reading Academies have entered a new phase with the initial completion of certifying existing teachers. The program has shifted to focus on teachers new to the profession and educators who switch grades or school levels and has expanded to include educators for grades K-3.
The work accomplished by R14CC and TEA continues to support the certification process of Cohort Leaders responsible for leading Reading Academies content and improving assignments submitted by prospective Cohort Leaders to earn their certification.