Governor Abbott announces elementary school reading initiative
AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott and Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath today announced a comprehensive reading initiative – Texas Readers – to strengthen the reading skills of students across the state.
“While Texas has some of the best public schools in the country, there is still more we can do to provide our children with the best education possible,” said Governor Abbott. “Texas Readers tackles the important issue of student literacy and will give parents, teachers, and students invaluable tools to make reading and literacy one of the highest education priorities. I am proud that this initiative is providing students in our public elementary schools the best possible chance to succeed and to continue making Texas great for generations to come.”
“Reading will always be the foundation that determines success in the classroom for every child at every grade level,” said Commissioner Morath. “The Texas Readers initiative provides our teachers with needed educational supports to ensure our children will be equipped to read from the earliest grades through high school graduation and beyond.”
Texas Readers is designed to assist public elementary schools enhance their reading instruction by providing enriched teacher-development opportunities and additional innovative classroom tools. In addition, the initiative will include a public awareness campaign, called Raising Texas Readers, which will focus on ways to build our children’s literacy and reading skills at home.
The Texas Readers initiative is composed of three major components – Parental and Public Awareness, High-Quality Professional Development Opportunities, and Innovative Classroom Tools. Each component will include the following resources:
Parental and Public Awareness
Raising Texas Readers – a new collaborative effort between TEA, PBS, the United Way, and Univision – will provide public service announcements and advertisements that will be broadcast in 11 media markets covering the state. In addition to the PSA campaign, Raising Texas Readers includes local family events, free online apps, a text messaging campaign and comprehensive website. Earlier this year, TEA launched the new STAAR Report Card to drastically improve communication and transparency with educators and families on how students are performing on the STAAR exam. TEA is currently working on additional literacy resources and helpful tips for working with children at home.
High-Quality Professional Development Opportunities
The updated Texas Literacy Academies will provide new systematic instruction through ready-to-use materials paired with a series of ongoing, year-round continuing education opportunities, such as a lesson study, micro-credentials, and live coaching, as well as focused instruction targeted toward special education students and English Language Learners. Striving Readers – a brand new tool – will build directly upon the Texas Literacy Academy experiences and provide literacy coaches, professional development, strategic planning, sustainability support and the ability for districts to pilot programs and models that can be disseminated across the state. Texas’ second phase of the Reading Excellence Teams will continue to focus on improving educator practices in reading by providing teams of coaches around the state to support our teachers while enhancing the overall effectiveness for educators and students and maximizing the efficiency of resources.
Innovative Classroom Tools
Teaching the TEKS will provide educators with a clear and concise break down of state’s instructional expectations of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and will provide sample lessons, differentiation strategies and sample State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test questions. Teaching the TEKS will also help educators and families understand the student expectation and what all children should know and be able to do at the end of each school year. TEA is developing a set of free online instructional materials to assist elementary school English-Language Arts teachers with improving reading instruction, including intensive supports, technology, and adaptive programs. A new collection of optional content mastery tools will provide school districts with optional, free classroom tools to regularly monitor students’ reading comprehension and skills throughout the school year to assist teachers in their decision-making about future instruction and provide immediate feedback to students to steadily improve their classroom performance.