In addition to big changes to school finance and educator compensation, House Bill (HB) 3 of the 86th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature includes some changes to address early elementary literacy, including an additional requirement for the prekindergarten through grade six (PK–6) certification examination.
A person testing for a PK–6 certification issued by the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) after January 1, 2021, must demonstrate proficiency in the science of teaching reading.
This requirement is an amendment to Texas Education Code (TEC) §21.048 (a-2).
Campus staff requirements
TEC §28.0062 addresses reading standards for kindergarten through third grade. HB 3 amends this section by requiring school districts and open-enrollment charter schools to:
- Provide for the use of a phonics curriculum for reading instruction in kindergarten through third grade.
- Make sure, not later than 2020–2021 school year, each kindergarten or first, second, or third grade teacher and principal attend a literacy achievement academy.
- Make sure for the 2021–2022 and subsequent school years teachers and principals initially employed in the grade level attend a teacher literacy achievement academy developed under TEC §21.4552 before their placement in the grade level.
- Certify to the agency the prioritization of the placement of highly effective teachers in kindergarten through second grade and integrate reading instruments used to diagnose reading development and comprehension.
Staff adding additional certifications may be impacted by the requirement to demonstrate proficiency in the science of teaching reading. School districts can assist staff by providing resources for test preparation and training.
Within the next year, development of literacy achievement academies will occur and organizing this required training with other state and local requirements will be key.
Looking to the future
These amendments in HB 3 are important supports for the continued and future success of the early readers of Texas. With only 40 percent of third graders reading at grade level, increasing teacher certification requirements and teacher and principal training ensures commitment to everyone’s future.
Read the HB 3 conference committee report.
Karen Dooley is a senior HR consultant at TASB HR Services. Send Karen an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.